Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1039
Bite-Sized Advice
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
N/A
Writing Style 
 
4.0
A modern take on timeless wisdom.

I went in expecting a short-story collection, and immediately had to adjust my mindset. This is a book of bite-sized allegories. Which means the moral of the story (and its intrinsic acumen) is of far more consequence than the story itself.

Memos is a fast read—no more than an hour’s commitment. Each revamped metaphor is expressed in just one to two pages, interspersed with minimalist black and white illustrations. The prose itself is tight and to the point, offering a distinctly British flare in some of the word choices and cultural references.

Initially this reader recognized the adaptations and was unsettled that the original source didn’t seem to be credited. But at the very end the author does reveal her root material as biblical—citing the individual parables told by Jesus. The resulting effect walks a fine line between sensitive subtlety and spiritual obfuscation. But for some, this may be an ideal medium; a sort of stealthy introduction for those less historically or culturally inclined.

Much like traditional parables, they gloss over specifics of age, personality, ethnicity, and physical descriptions—instead going straight for the meat of the lesson it’s attempting to convey. As a result, there is no opportunity—or intention—of experiencing relatable characterization. Instead the scenarios rely on current technology and pop culture references for added relevancy. While clever and well-meaning, I’m afraid this tactic runs the risk of feeling outdated fairly quickly. Though for the time being, it may more easily speak to the current generation of tech-savvy youth—or those who would not otherwise be willing to consider anything with Biblical origins.

Ultimately a meaningful read; one likely to make a good gift for preteens, teens, and new graduates who are still building their sense of self and purpose.
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