Friday, January 21, 2011

Housework can't compete with powerful story

It's been a bad week for all things housework. Already slacking on the laundry, dinner-making front. Then there's the matter of the still-decorated Christmas tree in my living room.

Tough to compete with the run of gripping books I've been bringing home from Euclid Public Library.

Could not stop turning the pages of "The Rest of Her Life" by Laura Moriarity.I was intrigued by the title and the book jacket and sold by the cover blurb of praise from Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors.

I am a sucker for a novel that makes me examine my own possible reactions to a situation, gives me greater understanding of how someone might react, and, bonus!, does so in beautiful prose.
Moriarity's tale is framed around one of those events that divides everything into before and after.

Driver and high school senior Kara hits and kills a pedestrian. The victim is a girl from her high school, a former student of her mother's.
Events unfold from the perspective of Kara's mother Leigh. 

The two have an already strained relationship. The kind many moms and daughters can relate to. This is not the stuff of shouting matches, physical abuse and running away; this is a relationship of missed connections, of growing apart, of feeling misunderstood.

"Once they left, she and Kara would be alone, and she would be able to say something right and useful, to show Kara that though she ached for Bethany and her mother, she would stand with her and love her through it all. The words would come to her. She would say them in the right way. She would just say what she felt.
"But as soon as they heard Gary's car leave the garage, Kara stood up and said she was going to bed. Leigh hadn't gotten even a word out."

That about captures the feeling of many a mom I know, trying to say the right thing to a daughter who seems increasingly out of reach.

All of these roiling emotions have Leigh thinking back on her relationship with her own mother. In her desire to not repeat her mom's mistakes, has she gone too far the other way?

Kara's accident may be the story's catalyst, but Leigh is its heart.

A bit of advice, don't pick this book up if you only have a few minutes. Once you start reading, that laundry will be waiting until you're done.

Chance to meet an author

Author Natalie Palmer of Westlake will be at caribou Coffee, 15111 Detroit Ave., Cleveland from 1 to 3 p.m. jan. 29. She'll be signing copies of her romance novel, "Second Kiss."

- Tricia Ambrose

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