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A Scattered Life

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When free-spirited Skyla marries proper and predictable Thomas Plinka, she finally finds the love and stability she’s craved since childhood. She also acquires a new family: mother-in-law Audrey, disapproving and suspicious of Skyla’s nomadic past; father-in-law Walt, gruff but kind; and Thomas’s brothers, sofa-bound Jeffrey, and Dennis, who moved across the country seemingly to avoid the family.

Skyla settles into marriage and motherhood, but quiet life in small-town Wisconsin can’t quell feelings of restlessness. Then into her life comes Madame Picard, the local psychic from the disreputable bookstore, Mystic Books, and new neighbor, Roxanne, whose goal in life is to have twelve kids even though she can’t manage the five she has. Despite her family’s objections, Skyla befriends Roxanne and gets a job at the bookstore, and life gets fuller and more complicated than she ever imagined.

Exceptionally heartwarming and inevitably bittersweet, A Scattered Life is a story that will stay with the reader long after the last page is read.

267 pages, Paperback

First published August 10, 2010

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About the author

Karen McQuestion

32 books2,273 followers
Karen McQuestion is an Amazon Charts bestselling author whose books have sold over three million copies. Some of her titles include The Moonlight Child, Dovetail, and A Limited Run.

Her publishing story has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR. Additionally she appeared on ABC's World News Now and America This Morning.

Her website:www.karenmcquestion.com\

Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-M...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 671 reviews
Profile Image for Misty Baker.
403 reviews131 followers
January 6, 2012
There was a period in my life where I felt the need to be detached. Not physically… being AROUND people was not the issue for me, the “emotional connection” is what I feared. I had been forced to face a string of emotional torture and as a result I was (almost) irrevocably damaged. I did not like to talk, I did not form attachments of any kind. I avoided social situations, and more importantly convinced myself that not caring was the easiest path that life had to offer. Thankfully I recognized my moronicness and in record time, replaced my brain with a more “well rounded, functioning” one. Unfortunately… some people never experience the light bulb moment I had, and instead wake up one day 80 years old and completely alone.

When I first read the synopsis for “A Scattered Life” by Karen McQuestion the parallels I was to discover between it’s main character and myself were not immediately clear. As a matter of fact I didn’t predict the turn of the book at all. I thought I would be reading about a woman stuck in a rut, and yes.. that was (as predicted) a huge part of the story, but what I didn’t expect was to travel through the mind of a woman that (much like me when I was younger) feared the closeness of others.

Skyla Plinka has an average life, in an average home with an average family, unfortunately she doesn’t like it. Having been a wanderer growing up, she craved stability, but now that she has it, finds it hard to accept. Being a mother is great, but being a mother that never leaves the house was never on her agenda. Insistent on finding an outlet Skyla does two very unexpected things. 1. She gets a job at a rundown bookstore complete with an overlay exuberant shop owner and psychic. 2. She befriends her somewhat chaotic and kid crazy neighbor Roxanne. But just when she thinks her life is on the straight and narrow again, Skyla is suddenly faced with the most challenging path of all. Waiting.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “Misty obviously enjoyed this book because she told an “I relate to this” story” Well, that is where you would be wrong. There were several things wrong with this book, but the most obvious would be it’s LACK OF A STORY. Yes, I know… there was obviously some sort of story or I wouldn’t have been able to write a synopsis, but to be honest the entire book felt like I was standing in line for a rollercoaster and the park closed before I reached the queue. All waiting, no payoff. That’s not to say Ms. McQuestion’s writing was bad, quite the opposite… I believed every word she wrote down and even the structure was good, she just forgot the punch line. All of the characters were very well developed, I could muster an image for each and could probably even predict their next move, the trauma in the story was also believable, sad and a little overplayed, but present and accounted for.

So why did I feel like the entire story was me waiting for the other shoe to drop? Was it McQuestions lack of adrenaline? Her lack of surprise? Maybe it was her over attention to detail that blurred the lines between a good story and a personnel file. Whatever the case… one thing was resoundingly clear. “A Scattered Life” were just a bunch of words on a page that never went anywhere.

My vote? Read if you are bored. (And by bored I mean stuck on a ship in Antarctica with nothing else to do but make ice chips or pet penguins.)

Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
Profile Image for Barb.
504 reviews41 followers
September 5, 2010
A book I stumbled upon. I just bought my first kindle and was online looking for an inexpensive or even free book to try out. I found AmazonEncore, which I had never heard of before. I liked the concept so loaded this book on my kindle. Yesterday. I read the entire book in one sitting.

The story is mostly told from the perspective of Skyla who lost her mother at a young age and traveled the country with an unsettled father. She meets Thomas and marries him, and a good portion of the book is also told from the standpoint of her mother-in-law, Audrey, who is an obsessive mother and homemaker who feels unappreciated. Then a new neighbor, Roxanne, moves in near Skyla and the two women become fast friends, although they handle life very differently. As a mother of one child, Skyla watches in amazement at the chaos that is Roxanne's life with 5 sons. And, of course, Audrey looks on with disapproval at the lives of both of the younger women, knowing she could do it all better.

The characters grabbed me immediately. I found them so believable and the writing so engaging. There were many things that made me laugh out loud. And, then I cried.

I am a fan of Binchy, Pilcher, Ross, Flagg, etc. I love books about women, their relationships and their lives. This is a story about ordinary people, going through their ordinary lives, having ordinary misunderstandings and jealousies, and about friendship and family and love. A great reminder that we cannot sit back and wait for love - we must risk and seek relationships. And, we have to accept people as they are with all their faults and look for the good and love within them.

I understand this was a self-published kindle book, but it is now going to be released as a regular book, and it has been optioned for a film.
Profile Image for Stacielynn.
558 reviews17 followers
February 21, 2013
I enjoyed reading this book. Great literature? No. Deep philosophical impact? No.
Fascinating character study? No. Enjoyable and affecting read? Absolutely!

Generally, I found the characters to be more flesh and blood than one-dimensional -- they were a bit of a type, but then it was necessary to create the tensions in the book. Not everyone was likable or even understandable -- which is what made them so believable.

I wanted to find the book trite and pedestrian, but little things tugged at me -- descriptions of feelings or events were spot-on, and I knew exactly what the author was trying to convey.

Sure, it reads a lot like a Lifetime movie (I understand it's been optioned, but I don't know by whom) but occasionally they are a reflection of life. Happiness is elusive and fleeting. We are not always in control of our lives, but we must find ways to see and cherish the moments that matter. We do learn so much about ourselves through others. It's okay to be gently reminded of all of these things.

Profile Image for Brian.
1,647 reviews41 followers
November 6, 2015
I bought this book because it was one listed on AmazonEncore as a good review. This is a program designed to let new authors have a spotlight. I had read a previous book by her and dubbed it was pure trashy chick lit, so I'm gonna be honest and say that I was dreading reading this book, which I had purchased prior. I wanted to get it over with..and let me tell you, BLECH!!! Skyla is married to Thomas, who is a real jerk. Her mother in law is also a jerk. She befriends the very trashy Roxanne who has five kids, and is married to a trashy guy named Ted. This book dragged and dragged despite being short, and there was something about it that was extremely irritating to me. I will never read another book by this author, unless she wins some sort of National Book Award. And if you ARE the author and are reading this, I apologize. I see that many people like your books, so please try not to take this too personally.
Profile Image for Linda.
12 reviews
August 18, 2012
Karen McQuestion writes for those of us women who need to identify with other women who don't talk about how much they make, women who didn't set aside their promising editorial careers for family and whine about it, women who don't have summer homes "in the Cape", women who spy on their overky successful but gloriously egocentric cheating husbands, and so on. When you search high and low for a book that you can identify with, laugh with, cry, dream, and become a part of, Karen McQuestion is the author you should look for.

A Scattered Life is the second book I have read by McQuestion. She writes exceptionally well and speaks to places and people she knows. I don't get emotionally involved with the characters I read, unless you touch me in a way as the likes of Steel Magnolias, The Notebook, or The Help. Weeping along with characters doesn't happen often but A Scattered Life took me there. I can only hope McQuestion will be encouraged to take one of her books to the big screen. Hollywood is still overdue.
Profile Image for Amanda.
37 reviews2 followers
May 13, 2010
I really wanted to like this book. I wanted it to be a shining example of all the potential that e-books have opened up for independent authors and readers alike.

I didn't. It felt....uncomfortable. I've read novels where the characters were small town narrow-minded people that felt comfortable. They were either still sympathetic characters or clearly not. These were... not sympathetic but felt as if the author thought they might be. And while there was some attempt at a redemption near the end, it was way too little way too late.

(And since I listed to much of it in my car on the Kindle's TTS - I kept finding myself looking over at it exclaiming "Is that really in there?!?!?" )
Profile Image for Alicia.
26 reviews
February 12, 2011
I almost gave this book a 3-star ("average") rating, but decided against it because I felt that there was a great deal missing from it. The characters could have been more fully developed, and over all it was just lacking something. There were wonderful, descriptive narratives that led nowhere, too. Also, the story often progressed without the reader knowing what amount of time had passed - a week? Six months? It was a good story, an excellent message, but I was left with a void; everything could have been fleshed out more; it was almost as if this were a rough draft. That said, I do think that McQuestion shows excellent potential. Her prose was beautiful. A short little read. You be the judge.
Profile Image for Deanna.
9 reviews5 followers
August 18, 2010
I read all the reviews for A Scattered Life before I bought it and I was a little anxious. There are some extremely negative reviews, but most failed to say why they didn't like the book, so I bought it anyway.

I sat down to read it and couldn't put it down. The prose is amazing, the characters are well-developed and believeable with all their very human frailties. The author managed to take a storyline and present it from three different points of view and didn't falter once.

Skyla, a rootless orphan, meets her almost-OCD husband, Thomas, as a result of a quirk accident and settles down to an overly-ordered, dull-ish life with him and their trouble-free little daughter.

Audrey, Thomas' mother, always wanted a daughter, but was given three sons. She is almost the typical nosey mother-in-law, trying to interfere in everyone else's business. I've had a MIL like that, she's quite real, lol.

Roxanne Bear is the baby-loving mother of five small sons who moves in two doors down from Skyla and Thomas. Thomas strongly disapproves of the Bears and their easy-going child rearing and lack of housekeeping skills.

Skyla and Roxanne become the best of friends, inspiring Skyla to rebel a bit and, horrors, take a part time job in a hippie bookstore, while all Roxanne wants is 6 more kids. Audrey manages to get involved, as well, much to Skyla's horror.

I read the book in record time, about one full day. I bawled through the last three chapters, almost to the point where I had to stop reading, but I held on. Whether or not they'd have the same effect on you depends on your own history.

Overall, the book was beautifully written and will make an amazing movie. Kudos to Ms. McQuestion!
Profile Image for Nenette.
850 reviews51 followers
December 26, 2010
Skyla - that's the name of the main character, and hers was a scattered life (until she got married that is). I looked up this rather unique name and learned that its meaning is "fugitive". How appropriate!

Skyla lost her mother when she was a little girl, and she was swept from one place to another while her father always tried to adjust to, but always didn't get the hang of things. She was completely orphaned when she was 19, and was given a stable life only after she married Thomas, a man who likes constancy in his life. The story revolves around Skyla's life as a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter-in-law, a worker. As a friend, she declared that she had a best friend in all the places she'd lived in, including Roxanne, her latest neighbor and close friend, who died of cancer, leaving a host of 5 young boys and a loving husband. Somehow this has a redeeming effect on Skyla's relationship with her mother-in-law, with whom she has not seen eye to eye, but they did come around towards the end.

A really simple story, but one that is so rich with insights on relationships (both with others and with one's self). One of my favorite quotes: "Sometimes in life we need to just let things go, let other people have their way, even if we're sure we're right."
Profile Image for Brooke.
77 reviews1 follower
October 1, 2010
I bought this for $2.69 on Amazon and thought I'd give it a shot. *SPOILERS BELOW*
There's a lady, Skyla, who used to work in a bar and met this weirdo (almost Autistic like in his need for order and schedule) Thomas and married him. They have a clingy daughter, who has no discernable purpose or personality in the book. Thomas has a mother, who's like most sitcom MIL's and thinks that she's always right, but is really just a big busybody (think Everyone Loves Raymond Mom). And there's a neighbor, Roxanne, who has way to many children and a messy house that Thomas and MIL don't approve of. Something bad happens to Roxanne and everyone else becomes friends. Oh, and Skyla gets a job doing window displays at a weird book store with a psychic in the back, but that doesn't have anything to do with the something bad happening to Roxanne, I just remembered it now. The End. N
ow you don't need to read it.
Not that it's the most horrible book I've ever read. It was kind of like an American trying (poorly) to imitate Maeve Binchy. And since it was only a few bucks and pretty short, the disappointment was short lived.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for dina.
47 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2011
Like other reviewers, I also wanted to like this independently published novel. I actually purchased it thinking I might identify with a character - seemingly my age - who found herself in a marriage and life that wasn't what she had envisioned for herself.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Without the occasional pop culture references to Nickelodeon, I would have thought this novel was set in the 50s with all the “Mercy me”, “Heaven only knows” and “Any normal family” phrases that permeated the novel. Trying to picture myself as Skyla and my mother-in-law as Audrey was amusing, at best.

Aside from this lack of connection, I didn’t find much of a plot here, and certainly nothing in the way of character development. Stories and relationships flew by undeveloped and unfinished: more on Skyla’s relationship with Nora would have added dimension, for example. And Skyla’s premonition about her brother-in-law – even after shown to have some validity and even in light of Madame Picard’s presence – never developed into anything other than coincidence.

All in all, an interesting premise that didn’t work as well in execution.
Profile Image for Sarah.
198 reviews
May 17, 2012

Most of this book was just this quiet little story about three women and their desire to have fulfilling lives. I liked it well enough and really didn't expect it to get as intense and dramatic as it did. Not sure if it was because I could relate to being the mother of several children whose lives I exist for,or if it was because my family has recently lost a loved one after a very short fight against pancreatic cancer,but I found myself deeply affected,to the point of having to put the book down for several minutes just to collect myself,and be able to see the words through the tears. This book left me with this: No life is insignificant and we need to live ours with gratitude for every single thing...every day...because it all goes by too fast.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for L.
36 reviews
August 19, 2010
I wanted to something to read on on my amazon iphone app, saw the discounted book and said: Why not take a chance...

I read the book in one round-trip subway commute - it's a fast read...

In my opinion the best character died, and then everyone made up in the end for a Hollywood ending.

The book is probably an OK basis for a Lifetime movie (or soap opera storyline) -- if you like such movies, you will probably like this book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Susan.
147 reviews
February 25, 2015
I wanted to like this book, but I didn't. The characters were likeable, but lacked the depth needed to tell a story -- as this one set out to do -- about relationships. Not a lot happens in this book until the end, so it relies almost solely on the characters. which as I've said, fall flat. The author shows potential, though, because although I didn't like it I kept reading to the end.
43 reviews1 follower
November 10, 2010
This is a very disjointed story. Few, if any, of the characters are particularly likeable and their situations don't seem very realistic. I spent most of the book WAITING for something to happen and when it finally pulled you in and picked up steam, it was simply to wrap up.
Profile Image for Jane.
712 reviews42 followers
March 23, 2021
Bumping up to 3.5 stars.

Thank you to the author and My Book Tribe (FB) for this book.

Good neighbors don't happen often sometimes but Roxanne and Skyla hit it off immediately when Roxane and Ted and their 4 boys moved in. Roxanne was the opposite of Skyla but they got along famously. Thomas, Skyla's husband didn't like Roxanne much due to their rambunctious family of 4 boys I guess. Then Audrey, her mother-in-law gets involved in a strange way with Roxanne's family. Audrey has never liked Skyla much since she thought she wasn't good enough for her son.

What turns out to be a humorous book page by page it turns into sadness. This book had me crying like crazy towards the end.
Profile Image for Denise Levendoski.
284 reviews5 followers
December 26, 2018
Thank you to Karen McQuestion and Goodreads.com I won this book in a Giveaway.

Very emotional story that you get sucked into right away. The characters are meaningful and it's a very well written book. Surprise ending ! I would have liked a little more meat and potatoes about why this book is "a scattered life" from Skyla, it would have helped develop her, the book just eluded to it. Overall it was a great story that I found myself thinking about after it was over.
87 reviews
February 20, 2017
I don't normally like "sweet stories," but this was written so beautifully that it kept my interest. The character development was done well. The simplicity of the story made it possible to emphasize the relationships between just a few characters. I really enjoyed this light read.
Profile Image for Hilary.
367 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2018
This one took a turn I wasn't quite expecting. The characters have their share of faults but as you get further into the story you realize the underlying reasons.

I did not really appreciate Thomas' attitude towards his wife in the beginning but I'm glad his viewpoint changed as time went on...
Profile Image for Bethany Luther.
44 reviews18 followers
January 23, 2020
I was looking for a light read and thought this would fill that order. I enjoyed how real the characters were and that I could identify with them. It was a view into the every day life of Skyla, Roxanne, and Audrey. The challenges they face as mothers, wives, friends, and working outside the home as well as being a housewife. I enjoyed this book, shed a few tears and laughed so hard at times.
Profile Image for Sandee.
880 reviews49 followers
July 27, 2019
A good read for me. A story of friendship and family, and finding what you need in relationships and life in general when your not sure.
Profile Image for Lorrie.
727 reviews
March 6, 2016
There were so many things that I liked about this book. I first downloaded it onto my kindle because I knew the main character had moved into an old house. Old houses, my hook. Well, there was very little about the old house. Even the main character's friend moved into a big, old house. Not much about that house either.

There was quite a bit about Skyla and her husband, Thomas, and their odd relationship. They were opposites and it often hurt to read about their life together. Skyla grew up without a mother and her father moved around a lot. Skyla had difficulty forming close relationships and feeling secure. One of the main things that attracted her to Thomas was he was older, had a stable teaching job, and was a little OCD...ok, quite a bit OCD and boring! They lived in a nice little "older" house with their perfect little daughter, Nora.

The Bear family moves in down the street. All of a sudden children's toys, furniture, children (5 sons) are all over the Bear yard. At one point, one of the Bear children is outside all by himself which is how Thomas first spoke to the family. He knocked on the door and told them their little boy was outside. The Bears, Roxanne, and her husband, Ted, thought the child was inside. This is how the two families met.

Skyla and Roxanne Bear become very good friends over a certain period of time. Roxanne has the five boys and wants 7 more. She also wanted a big family. Ted is done!! Too many, not enough money, not enough time, etc. Roxanne, however, can talk him into almost anything. Skyla is content with just one child. She wants her child to feel secure and well cared for. Thomas doesn't like Skyla down at Roxanne's house, hanging out with her, or the association. He calls the Bears lower class, nasty, trouble waiting to happen.

Because of the relationship and the new found happiness, Skyla gets a job at the local bookstore. She's walking downtown one day and passes it. It's dark, dingy, and looks like no one has been in the store for ages. The owner is elderly, lost her husband a few years prior, and just has let things slide. Skyla immediately gets the job and transforms the bookstore into a local hub of business. What she does with her store window just pulls the people in.

Madame Picard has a room in the back of the store. She tells fortunes. Although Madame Picard finally confesses to Skyla that her fortune telling is a ruse and she simply reads body language and tells people what they need to hear for happiness, this lady makes some money ($35 a reading). Skyla's mother-in-law, Audrey, and her husband's grandmother even visit her.

To make a long story short, when the Bear family moved into the house down the street, Skyla hoped so much the Bears would have a little girl to play with her Nora. What she got instead was a much needed friend for herself. She also learned many lessons because of this new found friendship.

I would have given this story another star; however, I kept waiting for the plot to develop a bit more. I would have liked to have known a little more about Skyla's past. I thought this was going to be nurtured through the bookstore involvement. I also wanted to hear about the deep, thick woodword and stained glass windows. :(
Profile Image for Michele.
144 reviews
July 16, 2012
I knew that this was going to be typical "chick lit" when I opened it on the Kindle. I had borrowed my mother's Kindle, and I think that she must have had this book on there because it was free. The story line seems harmless enough - and I actually relished the fact that I found almost no redeeming qualities in either Skyla's husband or his mother. Things are thrown into the book for no reason, without any resolution, and the things that do have resolutions seem too pat and easy. Skyla has a dream about Dennis, and the reader is led to believe that there will be some encounter with him, some family event that will bring him back to Wisconsin, but none materializes. The bookstore owner and the "psychic" are thrown in for the convenience of giving the narrator something to do, and yet what could have been a very interesting internal debate - what the powers of the fortune teller really are, and what she says and how Skyla internalizes that - are skimmed over in a sentence. And then! Just when I think that, "oh, okay, so it's chick lit and it's not very good, but okay, I'll keep reading," Roxanne gets cancer and dies. In the span of about 10 pages. Maybe it was longer than that, because I was reading on the Kindle and I have no idea, but it felt like 10 pages. And all of a sudden, Audrey, who was a meddling interloper for her children's' entire lives, is now the most magical help on the face of the planet. I don't think that people are all black-and-white, and I was irritated that she went from one extreme to the other. What irritated me even more was Skyla's jealousy of Roxanne's relationship with Audrey when she had done everything she could to keep her out of her own family's life. Skyla was hurt that Roxanne's family didn't call her when Roxanne was dying, but from what I could tell, the characters had known each other for less than a year, and Skyla's husband, whose name I can't seem to remember, evidently, actively discouraged their friendship, so I can't imagine they became very close very quickly. Roxanne watched Nora after school, sometimes, but I can't remember any scene that took place with all of the kids in Skyla's house, or any of the kids in Skyla's house, or even Skyla and Roxanne talking at Skyla's house. How close were they, really? Close enough to have Skyla at Roxanne's deathbed? No way. It was family, and it should have been family. What irritated me the most, however, was at the end, when she was given this remarkable gift of a letter from Roxanne and should have been learning the lesson of having love in one's life and counting on the people one loves, Skyla is overcome with jealousy and has to ask Roxanne's husband if Audrey received a letter. She needed to have one more "up" on her mother-in-law. I was disappointed by Skyla's lack of personal growth and in the book as a whole.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Barbara Sissel.
Author 11 books709 followers
September 4, 2011
I so admire this for an opening sentence: Skyla’s earliest memory of Thomas was linked with the smell of beer and the taste of blood. This is how Karen McQuestion begins her e-novel, A Scattered Life. I was hooked from the start. Skyla ends up marrying Thomas and within a few years, they have a daughter Nora and settle into regular life. But life is never regular and neither are people and Skyla and Thomas are no exception. They watch with interest, and a good deal of consternation on Thomas’s part, as a new family, the Bears, Roxanne and Ted and their crew of five kids, moves in next door. Five boys, no less, and counting if Roxy has her way. She’s longing for a girl. Skyla has always been a bit reserved. Her life until Thomas was troubled--scattered, is how her mother-in-law, Audrey, describes it--her upbringing uncertain. Skyla has never experienced anything like the freewheeling lifestyle the Bears engage in and she’s drawn to it. Roxanne’s raucous laughter, her near-bawdy ways, the constant churning motion that five children can generate. Skyla and Roxanne are so different and yet they find a warm and loving friendship in each other. Audrey couldn’t disapprove more.

But Audrey is unhappy in any case. Her job as a full-time mother is done for the most part and she is at loose ends with too much time to worry about other people’s business. If Skyla would only allow it, Audrey would step in and run Skyla’s household, raise Skyla’s daughter. She would fold Skyla’s bed linen just so and rearrange her kitchen cabinets, etc. and do it all with such precision and authority. Audrey can’t imagine why a motherless girl like Skyla isn’t more welcoming of her interference. It’s so confusing that Skyla prefers Roxanne’s company and when Skyla finds work in a shop where a psychic gives readings, Audrey is incensed. No one else in the family realizes it, that their lives are unraveling, that something has to be done. And oh, boy, what Audrey does . . . well, as I said earlier, on the surface, A Scattered Life appears to be a story about ordinary people, people as regular as your next door neighbors, say. But life is seldom so predictable.

Sometimes a terrible and sad thing can happen and plans can take a sharp detour. Sometimes our gravest flaws turn out to be our saving grace. Another gift of this story is the ending, the way it unfolds out of who the characters are. It isn’t a pat ending or a necessarily happy one. It’s human. Like life, which is at times messy and unpredictable. And that’s what makes it satisfying. A Scattered Life was an altogether warm and thoughtful read.

Profile Image for Laura Belgrave.
Author 9 books32 followers
September 26, 2010
There's something in Karen McQuestion's novel that's reminiscent in both the style and family drama found in some of Anne Tyler's novels and Judith Guest's Ordinary People.

A Scattered Life brings together people looking for stability — or at least that's what they initially believe — and those who live fully, and damned what the neighbors think.

Not a one of the characters is without flaw. There's Skyla, resentfully suppressing her own nature to accommodate her husband's practical side. There's Roxanne, flamboyant and almost desperate to add seven children to the five she already has and can barely manage. Oh, and there's the Mystic Bookstore, with its dusty shelves and down-to-earth fortune teller.

Sounds kind of blah, doesn't it? I assure you, however, that is isn't and that's because McQuestion draws characters with a sure-handed empathy that makes the story hard to set down.

I understand the author is new and that this book debuted as an original digital novel prior to a publisher picking it up. That gives me heart. Perhaps there really are some publishers out there who actually still seek good material outside the comfortable confines of their tired agented-only approach.

Anyway, that's an aside. You won't be disappointed in this story, no matter its publishing history.
Profile Image for Jodie.
32 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2017
An easy, straight forward read. Enjoyed the way the characters came together and especially how in the end, the relationships and their importance on each of the characters lives worked out.
Profile Image for Katie O'Rourke.
Author 6 books77 followers
January 19, 2012
Karen McQuestion's debut novel was the first self-published Kindle book to be optioned for a movie. And here's why: her characters are like real people.

The plot of A Scattered Life moves a bit slowly. I got the impression that nothing was really happening. But the characters are so believable and likable that I didn't really mind. I was content just to be in their company, listening to their conversations and finding truth and familiarity in the more mundane dramas of real life: A husband who doesn't really understand, but is trying. An annoying mother-in-law whose meddling almost makes sense. A loving, under-protective mother of a slew of active boys. There are no heroes or villains, no black and whites.

This is not a predictable story. Some things happen toward the end that seem to come out of nowhere, the way these things do in real life, and it was only then that I realized how invested I was in these imaginary people and their imaginary world. (I won't be any more specific about it, because I don't want you to be prepared.) I had a good cry while I was reading, which I NEVER do!

I enjoyed this read and will be looking for more of her books to read in the future.
Profile Image for Kelly Brown.
174 reviews4 followers
June 8, 2016
Well that ending wasn't what I was expecting! This was one of those endings that found me reading until 2 am sobbing my eyes out. The main character is Skyla (pretty awesome name). The reader finds out about her upbringing and her current life, married to Thomas with a young daughter, Nora. Skyla is so multifaceted. I feel she can be relatable to many. She ends up becoming besties with a new neighbor, Roxanne. Roxanne is the mother of 5 boys with hopes of reaching 12 children. They are so opposite, yet they work! Throw in Thomas's family, and a crazy, dilapidated bookstore- and this book takes off. The chapters switch between Skyla, Roxanne, and Audrey (Skyla's mother in law) telling the story. The change of viewpoints gets the entire story told. The beginning took a bit for me to get into, but I ended up getting sucked in. I am a Karen McQuestion fan, and this book did not disappoint!
Profile Image for Pirate.
133 reviews
September 4, 2010
(What kind of a name is McQuestion? It sounds like a cartoon character that's a scientist/educator duck/bird thing.)

This book is probably best filed under the "summer beach reads' category. It's light, filled with simple, stereotypical characters in a small town, with a predictable story line.

3/4 of the book was spent developing the characters and setting up the story, and then the ending felt rushed. I guess I was hoping the twist in the Skyla's new friendship with an eccentric neighbor was a gory lesbian romance... Instead, I was shocked to learn that her new pal dies of sudden aggressive cancer. Given a recent loss in my own life, this was hard to handle in a commute read. Even more shocking, Roxanne's death seems to only exist as a method to deliver a "happy ending" to the novel. Feh.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
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