A review of Amanda Sun’s Fragile Things (In Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales. Edge, 2011). By Derek Newman-Stille
In Fragile Things, Amanda Sun explores the role of a teen-aged boy, Alex, who is taking care of a unicorn, or, as he calls it, a Frankengoat. The unicorn is a hybridised animal that was born accidentally on his father’s farm and has been used to generate funds for the farm. Neither Alex nor his father believe in the unicorn, but are constantly surrounded by a media presence that is fascinated with the creature as well as new age groups that are expecting miracles.
When Alex endangers a girl who is suffering from an undiagnosed illness that the medical community cannot seem to treat by exposing her to the unicorn, he has to come to terms with his own capacity to understand the miraculous and his conception of animal rights and defects.
Sun does a great job of challenging the concept of bodily ‘defect’ by situating a medical oddity (the unicorn) beside another medical oddity (a girl suffering from a disease that the medical community cannot identify or treat). She uses her narrative to question the taken-for-granted notion that the scientific (and specifically medical) community has an answer for everything and that every answer can be located in simple biology. She asks her reader to look beneath the surface of any situation and explore its depths.
You can explore Edge’s website at http://www.edgewebsite.com/ and see this and other Tesseracts volumes.