Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The Bermudez Triangle
Something that has never been scientifically proven but is most definately true is the fact that things are so much better when they're forbidden. Seriously. Who doesn't love forbidden things? Forbidden love- much more romantic, right? Forbidden cookies, too, taste twice as good as the cookies your mom throws in your lunch box. Forbidden movies, forbidden trips, forbidden food- all awesome. All way more enjoyable than they would be if they were actually allowed. On top of the quality of whatever the forbidden thing is, there's that rush, that knowledge that you are doing something that is FORBIDDEN.
This love for all things not-allowed is one of the many reasons I loved The Bermudez Triangle. If you're familiar with Maureen Johnson, you might know that the book in question has been banned from one school library, placed on a Parental-Consent-Only shelf that, I'm sure, just screams "forbidden". So, in other words, it screams, "READ ME!". Because banned books, I've learned, are always the best books. Let's face it- they don't ban just anything. If the library in question even vaguely resembles any middle or high school library I've ever been to, I'm sure that there are tons of books that are much more offensive than this one- but these are books that are "bad" for the sake of trashiness. These books don't scare people like the mother who brought the Bermudez Triangle up for questioning. This book, clearly, was banned not because of any actual content, but because of the message that it sends- the message that is so terrifying to close minded people such as this woman.
The Bermudez Triange opens with the going-away party of Nina Bermudez, thrown by her two best friends, Mel and Avery. The three main characters are introduced through this scene with dialogue and anecdotes, rather than the typical listing of characteristics. Nina is the intelligent leader, off to Stanford for three months; Avery is amusing and talkative, hyper-observant and snarky; and Mel is somewhat of a shrinking violet, remaining quiet and getting teary eyed over Nina's impending departure. The three have clearly been friends for a long while, though a precise date or year is not named. As friends, the three are very relatable- full of inside jokes, making fun of each other incesscently, and not at all reserved about making fools of themselves. They have a quality that reminds you of your own best friends, comfortable and amusing and somewhat ridiculous; and this might scare you, later on.
In the ten weeks that follow, each member of the Triangle falls in love- two of them with each other. Contrary to the impression that you might have recieved from the title, the description, and the back of the book, the point of view is not limited to Nina, nor is she the undisputed main character (am I the only one who thought that was the case?). The book, which is divided into ten parts, marked by holidays, switches third person focus according to chapter. During "Independence Day", while Nina is still away at leadership camp falling for an adorable nature boy, Mel and Avery share their first kiss. What follows is an exquisite tale of sexual identity- a story of friendship, love, and the difference between the two. It's clear, reading this book, why it would scare some people.
In today's society, few people are willing to admit to predjudices of any kind, even to themselves. Teenagers especially are more "accepting" of homosexuality- or, perhaps, still sticking to the status quo by refusing to voice other opinions. Because, honestly, it's cooler in most people's eyes today to be gay than to be homophobic.
The cruel treatment of Mel and Avery later on in the novel are a perfect example of the fact that nomatter how accepting today's society claims to be, predjudice still exists. Unfortunately, it probably always will. This book could not only help a person come to terms with sexuality- it's also a reminder that no matter how far we've come, there's still a long way to go. How many people can honestly say that they are completely, totally, unwaveringly accepting of everyone's beliefs and habits? I can't. I have no problem with people's decisions to be gay; I believe in equal rights for everyone, and I think that gay marriage should be legalized- but I can't watch a same sex kiss on TV without squirming and changing the channel. Predjudice is something I still have to work through and resolve- something that everyone has to work through and resolve.
Therefore, The Bermudez Triangle is a book that every teenager should read. It's a book that should be allowed on every shelf, no matter how fun banned books are to read. Besides sending a powerful message, The Bermudez Triangle is entertaining, made of awesome, and! Involves a completely adorable boy-two, if you like the whole Birkenstocks thing- who is beyond sweet and amazing despite his name, which holds a negative connotation for me. :D
As Kirkus Reviews sums it up, The Bermudez Triangle is, "Warm, humorous, and smoothly readable story... tender even when painful."
I give it five cups of steaming hot, delicious coffee. Caramel Mocchiato from Starbucks! I'd give it six, if that was an option.