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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Vinegar Girl | Anne Tyler

Genre: Shakespeare Retelling. 
Number of Pages: 240.
Perspective: Third Alternating. 
Location: U.S.

Vinegar Girl is the story of Kate, a girl who has to run her household and take care of her eccentric researcher father and unruly teenage sister. She is known as a shrew and everyone thinks she will end up alone, until her father hatches a plan to marry her off to his prized foreign assistant. For a complete summary, you can go here.

This book was so short, I figured it would only take me a day or two to read. In actuality, it took about two weeks. I felt hopeful at first since the lead character had a job in a daycare/preschool. I have worked in those types of jobs too, so I immediately felt connected to the story. But that was only a small part in this book. The rest quickly fell flat. 

This book felt like a parody of itself. I understand that it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, but not one piece of this story felt new. Really, a story about a foreign guy trying to stay in the country, so he needs to marry an American citizen? Yawn. I much preferred the Taming of the Shrew adaptation Ten Things I Hate About You. In this book, there were a few events that were so chaotic that they were a little bit funny, but the whole thing just felt ridiculous. The characters all felt very stereotypical: the confused foreigner, the prudish and snarky older sister, the bratty younger sister, and the oblivious dad. Speaking of the oblivious foreigner, I mentioned in another review that I HATE reading accents that are spelled phonetically in books. Tyler does that in this book and it is super annoying and makes the characters seem fake.

I was also really disappointed in the ending. I would hope that a modern retelling would have a little bit more of an “empowered woman” ending. But nothing about this book really felt modern. Maybe fifty years ago it would have felt modern, but I think women have made enough progress now to be able to have more of a say in their own lives. I am also disappointed in Anne Tyler. One of her other books, A Spool of Blue Thread is one of my favorite books. It focused on character development and family relationships, which is what this book should have done. Instead, she made a failed attempt at trying to write a comedic book. 

I am still glad I read this book since retellings are always interesting. It is cool to see how different writers interpret different classic stories. However, I just would not waste my time ever reading it again. If you are sill interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 


2/5 Stars