Bliss by Lauren Myracle

I hate horror- movies, books, TV shows, you name it. If it is horror, I avoid it like the plague. Somehow, the fact that Lauren Myracle’s newest novel, Bliss, is a horror story escaped me. Never mind the fact that the title is written in blood on the cover. I managed to miss all the not-so-subtle clues. In fact, I was thrilled when I received an ARC from the publisher thinking it was just the book I needed. I wanted something light and fluffy, something fun and beachy to read.

I was wrong.

Very wrong.

Myracle has crafted a true horror story, in the tradition of Stephen King. Bliss is the child of hippie parents. She’s moved around a lot, living in basements, various apartments, and most recently a commune. She loves her life on the commune, but is uprooted when her parents flee to Canada to avoid Nixon’s policies during the Vietnam War. Bliss is left with her wealthy grandmother in recently-integrated Atlanta.

Suddenly, everything she knows seems wrong and different. On the commune, health and hygiene were basic. Bliss never considered that the rest of the country might think differently. A bra becomes a necessity, make-up part of her daily routine. But the hardest part for Bliss is the fact that blacks and whites are still so separate. On the commune, her best friend was African-American. In Atlanta, her grandmother has a “negra” housekeeper. There is only one “token” black student in her prep school. And the KKK is alive and well.

Before she leaves the commune, Bliss’ best friend warns her of a vision she had- two girls that will not be good for her. Bliss ignores the vision, assuming it’s nothing. However when she begins attending her new prep school, she begins hearing a haunting, evil voice around a certain building. Her new friends seem harmless enough (though Bliss has a hard time navigating the world of high school girls), but the voice haunts her. Then, one of her new friends begins acting crazy and sympathizing too much with the Manson family (the Tate-LaBianca murders have just occurred) and romanticizing a rumor about a girl who killed herself on campus when the school was still a convent.

Myracle’s newest novel includes pieces of the Manson Family murders and the resulting Tate-LaBianca trial, as well as the realities of racism during that time. Bliss is a believable narrator and you sympathize with her complete confusion when it comes to this new world called high school. The novel also includes various snippets from another character’s diary, in between Bliss’ chapters. You see the beginnings of this character’s psychosis take hold and eventually take over their life. I spent most of the book trying to predict who that character would turn out to be.

The story is frightening. Too much of it rings true and seems all too realistic. The horror aspect is horrific, and threatened to give me nightmares (I’m a baby)! I can’t wait to recommend this to some of my students who love the Cirque Du Freak books. This is definitely not a G-rated book. I would probably give it a PG/PG-13 purely due to the horror.

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9 Responses

  1. I’ve been reading a lot about BLISS. I can’t wait to read it and recommend it to my students as well. Since Darren Shan’s books, many of them want horror, but Stephen King stirs up some parents. Hopefully, BLISS will fill the bill.

  2. I think it sounds great! Would you recommend it for middle school students?

  3. Paige, I definitely would!

  4. [...] and lots of reviews of Bliss, among them: Bookshelves of Doom, Oops…Wrong Cookie, The Reading Zone, and [...]

  5. is this book that scary? it looks like a great read and i just want to know because i can be a baby sometimes but not enough to freak out and look behind my back everytime i hear a creak or something.

  6. Does anyone know where i can read it for ree?

  7. I’ve read this book and it’s a really good read. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone that likes to read. I don’t think it was that bad of a book when it came to the horror. It wasn’t as bad as it seems. I mean, sure, there are parts in there that talk about the Charles Manson murder trial and things that he and his “family” did, but that just helps you understand the time period in which Bliss is living. There’s nothing wrong with this book, except one of Bliss’s new friends. She’s completely freaky. I imagined what was going on in this book, like I normally do when I read, and it freaked me out, but only until I got to the next part, which wasn’t far away. Trust me when I say you’re going to love this book if you haven’t read it yet.

  8. i think this book is really good…as long as u dont mind horror & stuff. sandy totally freaks me out….

  9. Wow. I want to read this book so badly! I love Lauren miracle, I’ve read ALL her books (except this one) and I will kill a person for it. Ha-ha. Horror and stuff.

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