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

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier
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Jun 26, 2012

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bookshelves: read-2012

I don't often enjoy Contemporary Fiction, but having read the description I thought perhaps The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. might be an exception. I know families that have suffered the kind of losses dealt with in the book and I have a high empathy quotient (I cry over commercials). It has all the promise of things I could connect with, yet it fell short of the mark for me. I think I was looking for more mystery in the diaries and more focus on how do you move forward when your best friend bequeaths her secret past to you.

I think the other part of the problem for me was that I never really connected with either Kate or Elizabeth. We are all a product of our upbringing and our environment, but it's what we choose to do with that input that makes the difference. Instead of the recent losses around Kate making her appreciate what she has, she lets it unravel her and make her paranoid. Kate dwells on all of it, especially the diaries; she is consumed by it. I agreed with her husband whole heartedly when he told Kate not to live in the past. You can't worry about the 'what ifs', you have to enjoy the 'here nows'.

As for Elizabeth, I understand where her closed nature came from, but I found that hard to connect with as well. More than anything, I felt sorry for her, because she missed out on so much of life by containing herself and not participating in it fully. I don't think that kindred spirits are abundant, but they are out there and if you never let them in... well, that's also just sad. I think both Kate and Elizabeth could have been true best friends, if Kate had chosen it. Omission is a form of dishonesty, and worse than being dishonest with her loved ones, Elizabeth was dishonest with herself.

The ending fell a little flat for me. I didn't find the big reveal to be novel altering, if anything, I think it detracted from the story in some ways, as if it was an attempt to lessen the tragedy. Also, I'm not sure whether I wanted Nichole Bernier to end things a little sooner or if she ended them just a little too soon.

I don't understand our societies obsession with motherhood perfection. Or why it's taboo to discuss our parenting failures right alongside our triumphs. Perhaps it stems back to our obsession with image, which is another thing I don't understand. I spent most of high school pretending to be someone I wasn't, though more from not knowing who I was than anything else. It was exhausting... and doing that while raising a family? Forget it. "I 'yams whats I ams, and dats all that I 'yams" to quote Popeye. What you see is what you get. If anything, I think this book made me realize how lucky I am to have my husband and my best friend who also don't go for disingenuity.


Honestly, this is a perfect example of why Contemporary Fiction just isn't my genre. My review is only as good as my honesty, and more than anything it reflects my lack of passion for the genre. If you like the genre, you'll probably find Julie's review a little more helpful, but I can only speak from my point of view. I will continue to try and broaden my reading scope by venturing into other genres, but in the mean time, I mean no offense.

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Reading Progress

June 26, 2012 – Shelved
June 27, 2012 – Started Reading
June 27, 2012 –
page 33
10.68% "This is gonna be a rough read for me."
June 28, 2012 –
page 192
62.14% "Good, but rough."
June 29, 2012 – Finished Reading

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