Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

Published: August 7, 2007
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: Hardback
Source: Purchased
Challenge: 100 Books in a Year

In The Rest of Her Life, Laura Moriarty delivers a luminous, compassionate and provocative look at how mothers and daughters with the best intentions can be blind to the harm they do to one another.

Leigh is the mother of  high-achieving, popular high school senior Kara.  Their relationship is already strained for reasons Leigh does not fully understand when, in a moment of carelessness, Kara makes a mistake that ends in tragedy -- the effects of which not only divide Leigh's family, but polarize the entire community.  We see the story from Leigh's perspective, as she grapples with the hard reality of what her daughter has done and the devastating consequences her actions have on the family of another teenage girl in town, all while struggling to protect Kara in the face of rising public outcry.

Like the best works of Jane Hamilton, Jodi Picoult, and Alice Sebold, Laura Moriarty's The Rest of Her Life is a novel of complex moral dilemma, filled with nuanced characters and a page-turning plot that makes readers ask themselves, "What would I do?"
My Thoughts
I'm sure you can tell exactly why I picked this book out, as the cover likens Moriarty to Jodi Picoult, and we all know about my love for Jodi.  Anyway, I really expected a lot from this book, and had really high hopes for Moriarty to be on my top 5 favorite authors list.  Now, I'm not saying this was a terrible book by any stretch, I just felt like comparing it to something Jodi Picoult wrote was a little misleading.
About halfway through the book, I really started disliking the main character, Leigh, although I don't think that was Moriarty's intention.  She was nagging, self centered and annoying.  I know that part of the reason she was that way was so that she could come to the great realization that she ended up just like the one person she didn't want to be like -- her mother.  I was also annoyed with the fact that there were large chunks of the book that would go back in time to let the reader better understand Leigh's perspective on things, but honestly....I just wanted to know what was going on with Kara and what was going to happen. 
I can see the relation between this plot and the plot of a Jodi Picoult book, however the writing style just isn't quite up to par.  Jodi's books are very emotional, and I felt that through this book as well, I just wasn't interested in it I guess.  Like I said, I really wanted to know what was going on with Kara, not what happened to Leigh when she was 16.  
The storyline was somewhat jumpy, but I think the main idea of the book was a good one.  I really enjoyed Kara's character and I did ask myself a few times what I would do in that situation.  I honestly can't tell you.  I think that Kara was wise beyond her years and did what was best for everyone in the end.  

Favorite Quotes
"Maybe, Leigh considered, children just want whatever it is they don't get.  And then they grow up and give their children what they wanted, be it silence or information, affection or independence -- so that child, in turn, craves something else.  With every generation, the pendulum swings from opposite to opposite, stillness and peace so elusive."
"This was perhaps what it was like to mother anyone, Leigh decided, far away or close.  You could only try your best, then wait to see if what you sent was needed or even wanted.  If it wasn't, then you packed a new box, and tried again."

My Ratings
Cover: 5/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Plot: 4/5
Ending: 3/5
Overall: 3.6

Happy Reading! 

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