Monday, June 7, 2010

Unexpected Read

I'm still a little confused how it happened. Because really, all these books were supposed to be light & fluffy summer reads.

But it happened. After reading this book.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Kristin Hannah who has written about 20 books (a la Danielle Steele/Nicholas Sparks/Trashy McTrashikins) - the type of author I just choose not to read; not in a snobby way, per se, I just usually choose to avoid that kind of stuff.

But avoid this one I didn't. And actually, I read the 500 or so pages in about 3 days. And then it happened...

I sobbed throughout the last 30 pages.

Sobbed. Like, in certain parts my eyes were too cloudy to see the page. Sobbed like I needed to gain control before I came into the family room where Jonathan was. Cried again when he asked me what happened at the end of the book - able to choke out "I don't want to [sniffle] talk about [sniffle] it."

This book is not going to win a Pulitzer/Booker/National Book Award. It's not going to get any critical acclaim. I'm not sure, actually, if in the breadth of Kristin Hannah's collection this will stand above any of the others. There were lines in it that were so dumb I would read them aloud to Jonathan and we'd laugh.

But underneath all that - this was a beautiful story about friends and family and love. I'm probably overanalyzing after my years of college English classes, but I think Kristin Hannah did an awesome job with the characterization of the two leading women - she was able to capture so many distinctly female emotions. And in that, she created this beautiful friendship of two best friends that spanned decades.

The ending had an obvious climactic event (as all books like this do). And it was pretty friggin sad. But also, if you were willing to dig a little deeper, and if you'd focused on the character development throughout the whole novel, there was a totally unstated tragedy, I thought. I don't want to give anything away.

But yeah, I think this book will stick with me for awhile. I timed it all pretty well, too: I was reading Saturday night before we were meeting another couple for dinner & a concert - I came to a reasonable stopping place (although I could have powered through to the end, probably) leaving about 45 pages. We went on to have a lovely night & I picked up the book Sunday morning, alone, in our bedroom. Thank goodness I didn't power through on Saturday night! I think I would've had a tough time going out. Sunday morning was the perfect atmosphere for a good read & cry.

So, even though I didn't think I'd say this when I first bought it - I recommend this book. Know that there are some cliches and some badly written lines. But look past those (...and give yourself some alone time for the last 50 - phew!).

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