This is a love story in the midst of moments of tragedy and comedy, and a damn fine read. Not many books make me cry, but there was more than one moment that I had tears in my eyes.
The Day We Met centers around Claire, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's while in her early 40's, although the story is told from several perspectives. There is also Greg, her current husband of only a couple years; her oldest daughter, Caitlin, who is twenty; and her mother, Ruth, who has moved in with them to care for Claire and Claire's youngest daughter, Esther. The story marches backwards and forwards in time, revealing snippets of the past that are slowly fading from Claire's memory as the Alzheimer's grows more pronounced.
In addition to the problem of Claire's disease, the main characters also face personal crises of their own. Caitlin has secrets she is hiding from her family, Ruth lost Claire's father the same way she is losing Claire and seems unable to let go of her anger at the situation, and Claire herself meets a strange man who seems to understand her in a way that Greg is increasingly unable to. As she and her family struggle to come to grips with the disease that is defining her days, Claire tries to find out who she is in the midst of losing what she thought has always defined her life.
This is a beautiful and touching story, and I would definitely recommend it. As soon as I am done writing this post, I am off to pick up more books by Ms. Coleman!
The kids and I have been feeling a little under the weather, so I haven't been posting reviews recently. But I've still been reading, so I have a backlog of reviews to write. One book that I read this past week was The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel, and I must say that I really enjoyed it.
It starts out with the main character, Kate, looking back twelve years to when she was newly married to Patrick, the love of her life. The story begins when he's late coming home and they have a fight. The next day, he goes to work - but he never makes it, as he is in a car accident and dies. Fast forward to the present time and her engagement to her new boyfriend, Dan. Life seems to be going great for her again until she starts having dreams about her ex-husband and the life they could have been leading.
All these elements could be cliché. Heck, they are, even I will admit that. But Harmel handles the scenes without a maudlin air, and makes the story and the characters feel real. The characters make bad decisions and they aren't always perfect, but I was drawn completely into the story. What's amazing is the main character's occupation is as a music therapist to kids, especially disabled kids, and it felt as if the author must have been involved in that world also, since the details are so seamlessly incorporated into the narrative. However, reading Harmel's notes at the end, I was startled to learn that she'd created these characters' occupations all by research. One would never know when reading the book.
This is a romance, but romance is not really the only theme of the book, nor necessarily the conclusion the main character comes to at the end. Her ex-husband, the love of her life, IS dead, and she has to come to terms with that - but, in doing so, she realizes that there are many types of love, not all of them the ones she initially thinks are important. I would definitely recommend this book, and I plan on picking up Harmel's first book, The Sweetness of Forgetting.
First, I want to say how much I enjoyed the writing style of this book - it was hard to put down. I can see what the hype was about and why it was made into a movie - I haven't yet seen the movie, but I can perfectly see this story being carried out in film.
Having said that, I also have to say the second half of the book was just as well written as the first half, but the plot veered too far into the implausible for my tastes. There were a couple things that pulled me out of the story:
1) There were too many writers in the book. Perhaps I'm biased since I'm a fiction writer myself, but one of the first lessons we're told is: Don't write about writers. Not only are Amy's parents writers, but Amy and Nick are both writers. Although Amy's parents being writers helped fully flesh out the plot, Nick certainly doesn't need to be one also. Because of the fake diary Amy plants as part of the evidence piling up against her husband, it might lend credibility for her to pull off the con by being a professional writer... then again, perhaps it's not necessary. Many people have very wonderful blogs nowadays, but aren't "professional" writers. And the fact that ALL the main characters share the same profession? Too many writers in the book, in my opinion. Like too many chefs spoil the broth.
2) Amy's psychosis reads too much to me like a made-up story rather than a fully realized narrative. She is logically crazy. I felt myself being stretched a little past credibility with some of the actions attributed to her.
3) Amy's character is inconsistent. She goes to such great lengths to protect herself and set up the narrative to frame Nick. Then once she stages her disappearance and reaches the cabins in the middle of nowhere, she immediately starts hanging out with two strangers whom she knows nothing about, even going so far as to reveal where she keeps her money and watching a TV show about her own disappearance with one of them. I understand that to forward the plot, her money needs to be stolen in order to be forced to turn to Desi... but it really seems out of character for her. It seems stupid and spur-of-the-moment, and the whole point of the book is she ISN'T stupid or spur-of-the-moment. She's insane, but she's methodical and patient.
4) Nick staying with Amy at the end of the story seems implausible to me. While the child might be SOME motivation, is it worth the rest of his life with crazy Amy? Seems out of character to me. He's turned to another woman before, and he could again. At the end, he talks about not wanting to become Amy, then contradicts himself by saying he's reaching her level of craziness. Again, this struck me as inconsistent.
***END SPOILER ALERT***
Other than these few plot points that bothered me as I read the book, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'd definitely pick up another book by Gillian Flynn.
There's definitely a lot to like about this book. It's a story about five college friends who have turned thirty and found out that their lives are not where they expected. The main character, Ben, is in the middle of a divorce with his wife, Sarah. Lindsey, whom Ben has loved since college, is a temp worker whose life lacks anything permanent, carrying over to her relationships. Alison has put her personal life on hold for ten years, since she's been in love with Jack the whole time, who is now a big-shot movie star with a serious coke addition. Chuck is still the class clown whom none of the friends take seriously, although he is currently a highly respected doctor.
The characters are complex but likable, and a story that could be full of clichés has only one or two to hold it up. The writing style draws the reader in and keeps the reader zigzagging between sympathy for the characters and laughter at their crazy antics.
There's only one part of the book that made me go: "Whaaaat?" One of the main characters is a player, who picks up random women from bars for one-night stands. One of the women he picks up lies about her age - she is still in high school and under 18 years old. Ben, the main character, finds out about this and chooses not to tell anyone about what he has found out. I kept on waiting for consequences for the characters because of this statuary rape, but nothing happens in the book - the characters just keep on doing their thing, and this part of the storyline goes nowhere. So it left me with a bit of an icky feeling. This isn't the only instance when the main characters do something highly illegal in the book that turns out "all right" in the end, so it left me with the idea of a pattern of "do anything and it'll be okay." I wasn't too keep on that part of the story.
***END SPOILER ALERT***
Other than that, I enjoyed the book and would probably pick up another one from Jonathan Tropper.
I recently finished one of the best books I have read in a while. I like a good apocalypse as much as the next person - I'm a fan of The Walking Dead, for example - but those types of stories are easy to over-dramatize and throw in lots of violence or dystopia for the sake of violence or dystopia. But to have a good apocalypse tale that reveals the heart of humanity, while not showing it completely rotten or saccharine sweet, is a wonderful and unexpected change.
The book opens with a famous actor, Arthur Leander, having a heart attack on stage while playing King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a budding EMT and member of the play's audience, leaps on stage to do what he can to help. Caught up in this small but important drama to them, little do they know that a deadly flu is taking over the city of Toronto. Soon, one person's medical crisis becomes irrelevant when faced with a medical crisis for the entire world.
The book leaps backwards and forwards in time, so the reader slowly learns the reasons and backstory of what led the characters to the opening scene. The transitions are smooth instead of jarring, and the beauty of the tale is woven out of these time shifts into a bittersweet story that gives the reader pause, without becoming maudlin or pandering.
I won't reveal more for fear of spoilers, but this book was very hard to put down at all. I would definitely recommend it.
I read a lot - depending on my writing schedule, I can usually read about a book a day. Some of the books are fantastic and I would love to recommend to everyone - some, not so much. Either way, I thought I would share a few thoughts on what I'm reading at the moment.