Megan's Reviews > Precious and Fragile Things

Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart
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Nov 26, 2010

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bookshelves: 3-stars, fiction
Read in November, 2010

One recipe for a compelling, character-driven plot is simple: give a character what they most want, but in the WORST way possible. Megan Hart employs this technique in her latest novel, Precious and Fragile Things. Protagonist Gilly wants a little breathing room in her life as an overworked stay-at-home-mother of two young children. She experiences snatches of mental freedom, at least, by counting in her head and by taking moments to herself in the kitchen pantry, but it's not enough. When a desperate carjacker unintentionally kidnaps her along with her truck, the two of them are snowbound for months in the carjacker's isolated hunting cabin. Gilly gets the breathing room and the escape she thought she craved, not to mention a hard look at her life and the life of her inadvertent captor.

I really love Megan Hart's writing, and I wanted to read Precious and Fragile Things because I was interested to see what she'd do with a non-romance/non-erotica story. For the most part, I wasn't disappointed. Megan Hart is a master storyteller, willing to delve into the uncomfortable and broken places in the human psyche with care and gentleness. Hearts break, and Hart doesn't shy away from that, but she doesn't exploit that pain, either.

The book's beginning, however, didn't work for me, and for a while I didn't think I'd want to finish the book. I couldn't put myself in Gilly's shoes at all; I'm not a mother and while I could intellectually understand her frustrations, I couldn't relate to them or understand them emotionally, and then when Gilly freezes--she passes up at least one golden opportunity to get herself out of the car and to not let herself be a victim--I had to put the book down. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue with this kind of book where the protagonist makes such a frustrating choice to be a victim. Gilly remained a frustrating character for me, throughout the book. I wasn't sure if I found her sympathetic or not, and I couldn't follow her emotions as well as I would've liked. However, watching her try to untangle the puzzle of her captor, Todd, and figure out how to save herself and how to treat and relate to Todd, those were all very interesting components of the book to me.

The very ending chapter felt a bit trite to me. The book's climatic scene, the final scene between Gilly and Todd, had me crying and reading it over twice, and while I did want to know more about Gilly's life afterward, I might have liked the story to have ended there instead, because the actual last chapter felt "off" to me.

Overall, I was impressed as always by Megan Hart's imagination, writing, and storytelling, and I look forward to reading what she writes next. (I have so much of her backlist to read, too, which I'm still excited about!)

Note: I read a review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
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