Jill's Reviews > The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier
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Jul 03, 2012

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Read from July 03 to 17, 2012

From Bridget Jones’s Diary to the more literary Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich, diaries have been used – well before blogs came on the scene! – to provide a window into a character’s state of mind or to advance a plot through a character’s own words.

And so it is here. Kate is bequeathed the diaries of her close friend Elizabeth, who died in a plane crash that was overshadowed by 9/11. Upon reading them, she realizes that she never really knew her close friend and that Elizabeth, who seemed so perfect, had some very substantial secrets. Kate reflects that some people simply “don’t fit into a box. They grow to infiltrate everything and when they suddenly go missing, they are missing everywhere.” And Elizabeth – even the memories of her – are definitely missing.

The book firmly falls into the genre of chick-lit (not a slur; in fact, there are many chick-lit books I have 5-starred and like a great deal). It’s about the decisions of motherhood and marriage and about friendship, parenting and identity…with a healthy dose of introspection.

But for me, the author makes too many facile choices. I never got the feeling that the diary was written by a flesh-and-blood character; the easy intimacy was missing and the diary seemed too finessed. It just didn’t ring true enough. The use of 9/11 to represent an anxious, uneasy time when everything has changed has also become too much of a cliché; it is the rare writer who can handle that emotionally-charged event in a pitch-perfect way.

While there were parts of the book and the plotting that I enjoyed, I never really gave myself over to it or found the reflections profound. That being said, I suspect that some readers will really connect with the message of how sometimes the “real” person is not the person we think she is.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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switterbug (Betsey) Thanks for the heads up. I've had enough chick-lit for now. It IS hard to find good books of that genre!

Jill This book WILL resonate with a certain audience; the author knows how to write. But I can tell it's not for you.

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