Genres: Young Adult, Literary Fiction
I first heard of this book from one of Ariel Bissett’s channel and was immediately drawn to the cover – then the synopsis sounded intriguing. I was not sure what to think of literary YA fiction, as it made me think of books like The Catcher in the Rye (which I dislike), but since then I heard a few more positive reviews about it and decided to pick it up.
The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grandchildren.
I can absolutely see why so many people have loved this book – it’s immersive, beautiful and each voice is distinct, making it easier to tell apart the different stories, even when the characters don’t really have names. I have an inclination towards stories that use magical realism/fantasy in a way that could be a metaphor for mental illness, so I’m biased when I say I LOVED the way Dig used bits of magic throughout the story, it felt quite natural and that is how I know that magical realism is being done right.
Dig did not get a full 5 stars from me because it felt, at times, a bit preachy, a bit too scripted, the conversations too clean-cut. Any sort of similar conversations about race, privilege etc that I have tried having with people in the past have never been this clear – but that is a small thing, really, and I am sure a lot of young people are way more informed and eloquent than I was back then.
Otherwise, I loved this book! It’s really touching and I finished it with my heart both broken and full. It’s just so beautiful and so easy to read – I flew by it and it barely felt like a 400-page volume at all.