I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes
By Jaclyn Moriarty
Anansi, 2004

I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes is a difficult book to review. Technically, it would fall under the category of literary fiction, or perhaps chick lit. As with most of Moriarty's books, it also qualifies as light magic realism

Normally, I'd give a plot overview, but the big hook of this book is that you have to follow the clues to puzzle out what the plot is. It is a collection of short scenes and scraps that give you windows into a number of people's lives, all of them a bit quirky, but none of them all that interesting in isolation. As things progress, it emerges that things are weirder than you suspected (it does not take long), and then events slowly resolve into a new, more logical framework. But it's still quite good, and not too weird and artsy.

Oh, and also:

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
By Jaclyn Moriarty
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007

I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes was Moriarty's first book for adults, rather than young adults. It didn't really do very well. So, fast-forward a few years. Her Ashbury/Brookfield series, targeted at young adults, was doing quite well, and Pancakes was really a quite good book. So Moriarty bowdlerized some of the dirty words and sex scenes (not particularly graphic, but Not Suitable For Youth), rearranged some bits, rewrote a few scenes, and Bob's your uncle!

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor refocuses on Listen Taylor, although, quite frankly, this is not a big change. However, it does give me a bit more of a plot to review. Listen is a Middle School student going through some adjustment issues as her best friends decide that she is no longer best friend material. She finds an unlikely source of distraction: a spell book sitting mysteriously in her family's new apartment, which promises to solve all of her problems if she does exactly what it says.

Which is terrifically misleading. Not the spell book -- the spell book works, maybe -- but as a summary of the plot, this is a bit of a red herring. Arguably, the spell book is as important as any other thread in the in the novel, but this is not particularly a book about Listen Taylor.

I read these books with a significant gap between readings, so I can't make a direct comparison. However, both are good books, and both deal with weighty adult topics like affairs and divorce and flirting with handsome Canadians; and both deal with weighty teenager topics like having bad friends and parents having affairs and family members having divorces. Both are, very much, the same in all important aspects. I think I prefer I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes, but if you want a quicker read with less awkward sex then you won't miss out on anything important by reading The Spell Book of Listen Taylor. In either case, these are not bad introductions to Jaclyn Moriarty's style, and are intriguing reads.