Back on the old message board, we had a conversation going about what different people were reading, to whom the reader would recommend the texts in question, etc. I know a lot of you read more each month than whatever is designated by the group. So I’d invite you to let me know what you are reading in your comments, and maybe we can revive this old conversation and update it from time to time. This month, I read
1. The Secret Between Us by Barbara Delinsky.
I’d heard a lot about this author and most of it complimentary, so I decided to give her work a shot. This novel begins when Deborah, a middle-aged doctor, and Grace, her sixteen-year-old daughter have a hit- and-run accident on a rainy night while Grace, who is a new driver with only a learner’s permit, is driving. When she is questioned about the accident, the authorities simply assume that Deborah is driving, and she says nothing to contradict that supposition. As a result, great emotional and practical complications arise for both Grace and Deborah as the accident is further investigated and as they try to deal with its implications. I’d say this is one of those novels you neither love nor hate. It’s just plain “all right.” The dialogue is excellent, but, except for a problematic stain on this reader’s credibility at one point, the problems Grace and Deborah encounter are portrayed fairly well, but these, along with the ending, are basically what I would have expected.
2. I Loved You All by Paula Sharp. I picked up this one because it was a coming-of-age-tale about narrator Penny, who is an adult looking back on incidents that begin when she is eight years old. Penny’s mother, Marguerite, is battling alcoholism and, in Marguerite’s absence during her treatment, Penny’s teenage sister, Mahalia, develops and attachment to Isabel, a highly religious warrior in the pro-life crusade. Penny herself is hilarious, a real rebel of a long child, who supports her mother no matter what and refuses to join her sister in her admiration of Isabel. If you cherish strong character development as I do, this one merits not merely a read, but a round of applause. A broad spectrum of characters live between these pages, and I truly felt as if I understood what makes each one tick. The style is strong as a whole, and some parts are deeply touching. The only problem I have with recommending this book to anyone else is that it takes on issues of the abortion debate and of the authority of religion, which, I realize to be teritory a lot of people just don’t want to enter. The other major issue this book engages is gender roles; there’s much to talk about here in that regard; I found the novel’s portrayal of these issues highly compelling, but again, I know this isn’t a theme that everyone is comfortable with.
So that’s it for me. What are you all reading? Let us know in your comments.