Laurel-Rain's Reviews > Life Sentences

Life Sentences by Laura Lippman
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Mar 23, 09

Read in March, 2009

The role of memory and perspective shape this tale of a writer – Cassandra Fallows is known for her memoirs about her childhood experiences – with details called into question by some of the other characters about whom she wrote. Cassandra was the white girl with several elegant and privileged black friends – Tisha, Donna and Fatima. Their memories of events were quite different from her perspective on things. When she reconnects with them many years later, in order to put together the details of another story she is working on, she learns about these discrepancies.

Cassandra grew up in Baltimore with her intellectual father Cedric, a classics professor, and her less-colorful and almost “boring” mother Lenore. Her parents separated after the riots of 1968, when Cedric fell in love with Annie, a black woman he supposedly saved from being raped during the fracas.

Now Cassandra, enjoying the fruits of her success as a writer, takes on the project of writing about another school friend – Calliope Jenkins – who was jailed after the supposed death of her youngest son, because she refused to talk or reveal where he might be. He is either dead or missing. She maintains her silence through seven long years until she is released from prison. She only talks to Cassandra – finally – when a discovery during research reveals several secrets and the truth hiding behind a cover of powerful people protecting their own betrayals.

As old lies and betrayals surface, Cassandra finally begins to put together the truth in her own life – discrepancies in memory were not wholly responsible for the wrong details in her story. She simply had not had all of the facts.

How will the “truth” alter her life now? Will she correct the misconceptions of the past? How will she reshape her current life in view of the new facts available to her?

As this tale veers from one point of view to another, the reader soon comes to realize that “truth” and “memory” are multifaceted and that each person’s reality is very personal and unique to that individual.


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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger This looks really, really good- how is it so far?


Laurel-Rain Actually, I haven't started it yet...it's just on the top of my stack. I'll probably begin it by the end of the week.


message 3: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger I like the cover and the description looks good too. I'll be watching! :D


Laurel-Rain Thanks, Barbara....


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