It turns out that I'm glad I did. Ella Minnow Pea is such an imaginative epistolary as it is a novel written in letters. Not only that it is written in letters but the plot is concerned with graphemes or the alphabet. You can feel how the people of Nollop cherish letter writing and the alphabet as they write each other. Soon, I was engrossed in neologisms and word play.
It took me back to the many Scrabble games I played with my Grandma when visiting her. My grandma really instilled a love of words in me through encouraging and letting me play Scrabble with her.
From the beginning, I struggled a bit to understand the satire behind the messages because that has never been a strong point with me. It's hard enough for me to be satirical and when I do it's not noticeable enough to be funny. So, then I realized I was taking it too seriously. Once I lightened up, it started to engage me with its wit and how sincerely clever the author had become because the people are writing their letters to each other with fewer and fewer choices left from their precious alphabet. It became like a puzzle as my brain automatically tried to figure out what was trying to be replaced in the alphabet in each of the new creations of words that had to be made in order to keep communicating. It wasn't easy for the people of Nollop to give up their alphabet letters. So, tough decisions had to be made personally by each person in order to feel like they could live again. This nonsensical form of communication had to be given up.
And then I reached page 86-87 in a letter written to sweet Mittie from Agnes:
We will not speak, we too, but I eagerly expect to pore with you in warm silence over our musty high school annuals as well as these fox-worn nature scrapbooks we spent several beautiful summers lovingly compliling.
What an epiphany! I found one of my favorite words right there on the page and by this time I understood that it wouldn't be allowed for long. So sad. I was hooked and I kept reading.
- 224 pages
- Publisher: Anchor (September 17, 2002)
- My rating: 4 stars