Gwendy's Button Box

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Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 10/15/2019
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Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Tuesday, October 15, 2019
I got this hardcover at a local Savers thrift shop. It's a collaboration between Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, set in King's weird-things-happen town of Castle Rock, and has some... interesting variations on a theme.

Here, young Gwendy - already working hard to overcome issues that got her teased in the past - meets a stranger who offers her an unusual gift. (The story covers her own sensible wariness of strangers and their gifts, but it seems clear that there are special influences at work here - though she could have walked away if she'd wanted to.) The gift itself turns out to be the "button box" of the title, though it isn't the kind of box I'd imagined - one full of actual clothing-type buttons, a household staple when I was a kid. This one's a beautifully crafted wooden box with a set of push buttons on top, each a different color and with a different target - er, purpose. Gwendy intuits what these are for without the stranger having to be explicit, and she's determined not to use them - except for the one that will give her whatever she really, really wants.

It seems obvious where this is going, a mix of "be careful what you wish for" and "don't push the button", yet the authors manage to work out an intriguing, sometimes frightening, ultimately impressive variation on common themes. At first Gwendy - laudably cautious about the whole thing - takes the addictive-but-self-limiting goodies from the box, but avoids the buttons. Time passes, and Gwendy and her family all seem to become better, stronger, healthier, and happier - but is that due to the box or to their own efforts?

Plot points along the way feature Gwendy's separation from old friends as she changes from awkward kid to self-possessed and wildly talented teen (again: is that because of the box, or would it have happened anyway?), hints that the stranger is monitoring her (but is that to make her use the box more - or use it less?), and - as she grows older - troubling complications regarding romance and her desire to be honest vs. her need to keep the secret of the box and its powers.

Those powers do get tested a time or two, with a range of results - and, again the question of whether that would have happened anyway. But there is at least one definite "the box did it" incident that is horrific from the get-go, and all the more so when Gwendy reveals the whole story.

I found this one intriguing and satisfying, with moments of heartbreak and of terror - quite the accomplishment!

Released 1 mo ago (12/13/2019 UTC) at Little Free Library, Milford United Methodist Church in Milford, New Hampshire USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

I left this book in the Little Free Library near the playground at the church on this wintry day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in NH here.]

*** Released for the 2019 What's In A Name Release Challenge. ***

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