The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

903A group of children thrown together by circumstance and geography begin playing the Egypt Game in an unused storage lot. It’s all fun and games until things start to get eerie.

Things I liked:

1) It’s a story set in a college town in California. I’m thinking it’s Berkeley, although Snyder never names it in the story.

2) Snyder deftly navigates the subtleties of childhood relationships, including the awkward things we do as children (and as adults) when we’re feeling uncertain of ourselves and our place in the world. This felt a little Harriet the Spy-ish, in a good way.

3) The group of friends is diverse in age, race, family constellation, and economic background but while the characters and the narrator remark upon these differences at times, they’re not the primary focus of the story.

4) Marshall. My kids and I agree: that kid kicks butt.

Things I didn’t like:

1) It was a little boring at times. Maybe this is because I half-listened to the audiobook before I finished the book-book.

2) The ending was…anti-climactic. But then, what do I expect? I think it was in Huckleberry Finn (or maybe Tom Sawyer?) where Mark Twain talks about the difficulty of picking a spot to end a story about a child because childhood just keeps on going (pardon my fumbling and un-fact-checked paraphrase). Maybe that difficulty is the root of some of my discontent with the ending of The Egypt Game.

Things I found interesting but kind of neutral:

1) I never thought of making an Egyptian crown out of a bleach bottle. Genius, but I’d have to be a way awesomer mom to attempt it.

2) The climax reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird. I won’t go into detail because I’m married to someone who hates spoilers and has left me very nervous about accidentally spoiling stories (What happened to the Titanic, you ask? I won’t be the one to tell you), but it just reminded me of that one part in Harper Lee’s book.

Bottom line:

This was a solid book. My kids and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow my mind.

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