With a touch of magic realism, Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke sets out to explore what exactly makes someone a hero or a villain.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone is lying.
Never knowing what’s real and what isn’t seems to be a signature of Tucholke’s storytelling, as anyone who has read Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea can attest — and if you’re a fan of that book, chances are, you’ll also enjoy Wink Poppy Midnight. Though the stories are wildly different, both books mix up a contemporary world with hints — suggestions, really — of magic and dark forces.
The narrative is beautiful; Tucholke weaves words in such a way that they breathe life onto each page — the world of these three characters really comes alive as you read. Their homes and the barn and the woods and the characters themselves are all described so vividly; they really make the story sing.
But if you’re expecting a straightforward story, then this probably isn’t the book for you. The narrative is purposely deceptive — and while there is a reveal at the end, much is still left a little uncertain. In some ways, this book feels more like a writing exercise than it does a fully formed novel.
And full disclosure: this style of book really just isn’t my cup of tea. So I think this is the kind of book you have to be into to really enjoy; it’s not for everyone. But for those who enjoy this type of story, it’s quite lovely. (This book has also been compared to We Were Liars, which I also didn’t enjoy — but if you liked it, then yes, Wink Poppy Midnight is probably a book you will enjoy!)
Wink Poppy Midnight is in stores today.