Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: The Girl She Left Behind - Karen Brichoux

The Girl She Left BehindThe Girl She Left Behind - Karen Brichoux
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 5, 2005 - NAL Trade
Purchased at Border's

From the author of Coffee and Kung Fu and Separation Anxiety comes a refreshingly insightful new novel that asks: Can you find a home in a place where you never really belonged?

No one knows why Katherine Earle has come back to Silver Creek, Montana - not even Kat herself.  At eighteen, she ran away with her boyfriend and got married in the big city, but after spending three years alone and on the road, she's finally come home.  Well, not home, exactly, because she's renting a motel room and trying to avoid all chance encounters with people who might recognize her.  But when she's pulled back into ancient family intrigues, she must choose between the woman she's become and the girl she left behind.

My Review:
I thought this was a really sweet little story, that had the feel-good effect.  I didn't really know what to expect, as I had not heard of Karen Brichoux before, but I was pleased.  I will be checking out Coffee & Kung Fu as well!
Kat left Silver Creek when she was 18 in the middle of the night with her boyfriend.  She spent time with him in California after they got married, but then left him and hit the road by herself.  She traveled with her cat, Miss Kitty for three years before returning to Silver Creek.
I think that this story was able to really show that home is truly where the heart is.  Even though she was raised in Silver Creek, coming back wasn't all that she hoped/thought it would be.
I would recommend this as a light, feel-good read.

My Rating:
Overall: 4
Characters: 4
Plot: 3
Writing Style: 4

About Karen Brichoux
(From Karen's website)
"The daughter of American missionaries, I was born and raised in Southeast Asia.  Most of my childhood was spent reading or forcing the long-suffering family pets to act out the plots of books I'd recently read.

In college, everything was interesting to me, and I could never answer the question "What do you want to be?" without a measure of sarcasm over the idea that "being" something was somehow equated with "doing" something.  Still, guidance tests had revealed a natural predilection for verbal and mechanical skills, which had caused my high school counselor to suggest English or literature or, if that didn't interest me, perhaps becoming a car mechanic.  Oddly, no one suggested mechanical engineering, probably because I had managed to fail Algebra the first time I took it.

After stints as a secondary education major, a theater major, and a humanities major, I graduated with a degree in English literature.  Still interested in everything, I went on to graduate school for an MA in European history, where I focused on social, political, and religious history of twelfth and thirteenth century France.

While working toward a PhD in European history with a concentration in nineteenth-century social/political history combined with political, labor, and feminist theory, I began the painful process of re-examining what really interested me (beyond "everything").  I had been writing stories all my life, but I'd always pictured authors as reclusive, frightened, bitter people.  Realizing that the description also applied to PhD students, I abandoned my prejudice against being an author and wrote my first book.  I naively assumed that awards and editor requests meant I was going to be published by tomorrow or, at worst, the day after.  I left graduate school and began writing full time, even when it became obvious I was not going to be a published author tomorrow or even next week.  Three years later, Coffee & Kung Fu was published by Penguin Press.

Writing is, in many ways, a reversion to childhood.  I still spend most of my time reading and living in the world of my imagination, but the family pets are happy to report that I no longer enlist their services in acting out plots.
Happy Reading!

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