I had a hard time deciding how many stars for this book. I really, really wish we could give half stars because this only deserves 2-1/2 stars and notI had a hard time deciding how many stars for this book. I really, really wish we could give half stars because this only deserves 2-1/2 stars and not 3.
An interesting story about a gifted young woman (Astrid) growing up in foster care as her poet mother, in prison for the murder of a lover, manipulates her from afar. Throughout, Astrid is simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by her mother. Ingrid's complete evilness and the diversity of Astrid's foster families is what kept me reading to the end. Astrid herself was a strong character, but I was incredibly irritated by her voice - it was not authentic. I've seen other reviews that talk about the overblown writing. That isn't what bothered me; it was central to Astrid's character and an understanding of how Ingrid manipulates her. I expected Astrid to think with an overly sophisticated vocabulary, with artistic and literary references. What irritated me was that Astrid spoke as if she had tremendous insights in-the-moment into her mother's, her own, and her foster families' motivations. She didn't come to these insights over time and in retrospect. This didn't leave room for Astrid's character to develop over the course of the novel, which covered Astrid's life from age eight through nineteen. This just did not ring true for me!
In the end, I did like the book more than I disliked it....more
The very strange biography of Dare Wright, author of the children's "Lonely Doll" books. The cover of the hardcover edition is spooky and sums it up.The very strange biography of Dare Wright, author of the children's "Lonely Doll" books. The cover of the hardcover edition is spooky and sums it up. Look carefully....more
In the Lake of the Woods is a story about secrets and loss and obsession. Tim O'Brien deftly interweaves these themes around and through the story ofIn the Lake of the Woods is a story about secrets and loss and obsession. Tim O'Brien deftly interweaves these themes around and through the story of John and Kathy Wade. John Wade is a rising political star whose career crashes and burns when the secrets about his presence at the My Lai massacre are exposed and he loses his bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The Wades escape to a remote lake cabin in northern Minnesota to recover from this blow and try to determine what to do next. Several days into their stay, Kathy disappears in the middle of the night.
John Wade is a man obsessed with many things: his childhood hobby of magic, Kathy, his career. He loses his father in childhood and now he's lost both his career and his wife. What secrets does he carry about his obsessions and losses? What are his secrets about My Lai and what did he lose there? How have his secrets and obsessions shaped his life today?
O'Brien explores all these questions with chapters that alternate between the present, "evidence" and research from the police reports/files on Kathy's disappearance, reflections on John's childhood and military experiences, and hypotheses about what may actually have happened to Kathy.
In the Lake of the Woods is an intriguing read that leaves you with many unanswered questions. I'll be considering the possibilities even after I've returned this book to the library....more