I was actually breathless when I finished this book, because I read so fast to find out how it ended. Also because my heart was in my throat from allI was actually breathless when I finished this book, because I read so fast to find out how it ended. Also because my heart was in my throat from all the emotion that is packed into the end.
This book presents as a fairly straightforward missing-person-type mystery. Jenna is 13. Ten years ago, one of the caretakers died at the elephant sanctuary her parents ran. The same night, Jenna's mother disappeared and her father had a mental break that has had him in a psychiatric facility ever since. Now, Jenna wants to find her mother. She enlists the help of a lapsed psychic, and one of the detectives who was on the case 10 years ago, who is now a private investigator. So far, so normal. It's a good read, filled with sympathetic characters, and interesting facts about elephants.
Then, Picoult turns the story on its side, and we have to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about what happened that tragic night at the elephant sanctuary. Then, she turns it completely upside-down, and you realize that you didn't know anything about anything. Throughout these twists and turns the emotion is being ratcheted up, until you can't possibly put the book down until you get to the very last page. Fortunately, while I wouldn't describe it as a happy ending, it's a satisfying ending, and one that is well worth being put through the emotional wringer....more
I loved The Wednesday Sisters, and was excited to read this sequel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The three main characters were neither well-draI loved The Wednesday Sisters, and was excited to read this sequel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The three main characters were neither well-drawn nor likable, and the story wasn't very compelling. Or perhaps it was that the issues these women are facing were not nearly as compelling as the issues their mothers faced. Gone are the struggles to break away from the strictures and prejudices of the past. The daughters are confronting deaths of loved ones, infidelity, and other relationship crises, any one of which is ordinarily enough to make a story. So why don't we care as much about them as we did about their mothers? Maybe because Clayton seems to want this book to be as weighty as the first was, but it's just not. I don't know. Whatever the reason, this is one case where the the elders really are the betters....more
I have long admired Picoult's ability to deal with a controversial issue in a way that leaves me with sympathy for both sides, even if I don't agree wI have long admired Picoult's ability to deal with a controversial issue in a way that leaves me with sympathy for both sides, even if I don't agree with one. She's done this successfully with issues as diverse as gay adoption, suicide pacts, accusations of child abuse, school shootings, and various aspects of medical ethics, including, in this case, euthanasia.
Unfortunately, in this book, neither of the main characters are particularly likable or sympathetic. As the result of a car accident, Luke Warren is in a coma with a traumatic brain injury from which the doctors say there is no hope of recovery. The question is raised about whether to continue life support. Who will make the decision? He's divorced, and his only remaining blood relatives are his children: Edward, who left the family 6 years ago at age 18 and hasn't had contact with his father since; and Cara, who is very close to her father, but is only 17. Edward immediately returns home and, taking in the situation, and based on a conversation he had with his father when he was 15, begins the process of having the life support withdrawn and authorizing his father's organs to be donated. Cara believes that her father would seize any chance at life. The hospital insists that Cara and Edward agree on the plan, and the plot thickens.
As a plot, this is all very well. Unfortunately, Edward is a self-righteous hothead and Cara, despite arguing that, at 17-3/4, is perfectly mature enough to make the decision, persists in acting in the most immature ways possible. Naturally, court proceedings are instituted, and so we have a story. Unfortunately, I spent so much of the book just wishing that both Cara and Edward would go away that I didn't find myself caring much what happened to poor Luke one way or the other....more
What do you do when your unreliable narrator is yourself? When everything you thought you knew about your past is not just a lie, but a cruel lie? AltWhat do you do when your unreliable narrator is yourself? When everything you thought you knew about your past is not just a lie, but a cruel lie? Although Rachman takes some time working up to it, this is the issue that his main character, Tooly Zylberberg, has to face. Tooly tells her story in three rotating sections: the first, as a young girl living in Bangkok, the latest in a series of foreign cities she's lived; the second, as she turns 21 in New York; and the last as an adult, when she's separated from the characters of her earlier life, but must return to them. Although she is initially reluctant, Tooly eventually seeks out these people to get answers about why her childhood was shaped the way it was.
There's quite a bit of intentional misdirection in the lead-up. For one thing, Tooly refers to everyone by their first name, so it takes a while for her relationship to them to become clear. And then, of course, there's the problem that some of the characters aren't at all who or what they purport to be. As the story begins to come clear, though, it's quite compelling. And Tooly is a well-drawn character. Unfortunately, the unrelenting and unapologetic selfishness of other characters detract so much from the story itself, that even when Tooly found her answers, such as they were, I felt as though I didn't get mine.
In literature, not all characters are, or should be, likable. The good guys don't always get rewarded, and the bad guys don't always get punished. Even so, one wants to feel as though a character's actions have repercussions for them. In this book, both the selfish and the unselfish, the cruel and the benevolent, just keep on keeping on in a way that left me with a sour taste in my mouth....more