Publisher: Back Bay Books UK
Number of Pages: 320
Challenge: 100 Books in a Year
A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the auther of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.
For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.
"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily. Dementia, as it descends, has a way of revealing the core of the person affected by it."
Honestly, I've heard a lot of bad things about this book, which is probably why it sat unread on my shelf for so long. Lucky and The Lovely Bones were both great books, so I was expecting a lot when I purchased the book. After hearing how awful people thought it was I didn't want to ruin Alice Sebold for myself, so I just left it on the shelf. I don't know what made me pick it up this time, but I did and was pleasantly surprised. Clearly, this book is a little strange...it is very dark, and very depressing, but I thought it was well written and I thought it was quite the page-turner. While most people would read that first sentence and probably think "WTF", I was extremely intrigued. Please understand that I have the most amazing mother in the world. Honestly, I don't know what I would do with out my mommy! I'm not demented, nor am I a crazy psycho killer, and I harbor no ill feelings towards my mother -- I just was drawn into the first line -- and maybe because I have such a great relationship with my mom and I can't understand someone actually going through with something so absurd. Maybe it was just like a train wreck...I saw it, and I couldn't stop watching (or reading)...
Anyway, the book starts off with Helen killing her mother. I was expecting the death to be because Helen had to take her mother off life support or something...not because I was about to read 20 pages about an old woman with dementia that just crapped her pants...but alas, I digress.
After I got past the crappy pants, and mother killing it was quite an interesting read. Again, maybe that is because it is just so weird to me that I just couldn't stop, but either way. I still think that Alice Sebold's writing style is incredible, and even a story as morbid and horrifying as this can be well written and keep my attention.
If you really liked The Lovely Bones and Lucky I would recommend this to you as well -- but know that you must go in with an open mind...If you have not read anything by Alice Sebold before, this might not be a good starting point, so go grab The Lovely Bones instead (and please don't cheat by watching the movie---they are nothing alike...).
"The thing about dementia is that sometimes you feel like the afflicted person has a trip wire to the truth, as if they can see beneath the skin you hide in."
"How can you apologize for the mother you love? The mother you, too, hate. The only thing I could hope was that Mrs. Murdoch would have plenty of people to console her and listen to the story of how she lost her son. My mother would have only my father. Then she would have me."
"The moon is whole all the time, but we can't always see it. What we see is an almost moon or a not-quite moon. The rest is hiding just out of view, but there's only one moon so we follow it in the sky. We plan our lives based on its rhythms and tides."
Writing Style: 3/5