Friday, February 25, 2011

Another author sweeps me off my feet

I like to be swept away by a novel.
I read for a whole lot of reasons.
I read to learn. I read to expand my understanding of the human experience. And I read to escape.
Nothing beats cracking open a book and immediately losing yourself in the characters and their circumstances. I compare it to that feeling in the theater when the lights go down and you are immersed.

Swept away I was by Douglas Kennedy's "The Pursuit of Happiness."
We open at a mother's funeral, where an unfamiliar woman puts Kate on edge. Her curiosity is dulled by her dealings with her somewhat estranged brother, her ex-husband and her young son.
We soon learn that this mysterious stranger claims to be the love of Kate's late father's life.
And their story unfolds.
What price does that pursuit of happiness carry? Who is hurt in our own pursuits? Our own betrayals?
These are the questions Kennedy raises; even as you're drawn to Sara and Jack, they are not entirely sympathetic characters.
When folks "do the right thing" in this tale, as in life, there is still collateral damage.
Recalls Kate of her mom:
"But I was too wrapped up in my own griefs; my own sense of having been betrayed by men, by circumstances, by life. Unlike my mother - who stayed silent for four decades about the betrayal that fractured her life and sent it on a difficult trajectory. No doubt, she also wanted to scream: me, me, me, me, me. But she never would have dreamed of articulating such a self-centered complaint."
That was just one of several paragraphs I paused to re-read in this novel. Not only doesn the sentiment give me pause, but the language itself is a marvel. (Just the right number of me's, don't you think?)
Another author added to my list of must-reads.

Check out a reading guide for the book here.

Who's on the edge of their seat with me awaiting the March 1 release of Jodi Picoult's latest "Sing You Home"? One of my new favorite authors Caroline Leavitt had the chance to interview Picoult about the book. Read it here.
-Tricia Ambrose

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