I actually am a bit behind on my book reviews...I have a couple to catch up, so we'll start with Alice Bliss: A Novel by Laura Harrington.
I don't really like breaking down the synopsis of each book, so we'll let Amazon do that part. :-)
Description from Amazon:
When Alice Bliss learns that her father, Matt, is being deployed to Iraq, she's heartbroken. Alice idolizes her father, loves working beside him in their garden, accompanying him on the occasional roofing job, playing baseball. When he ships out, Alice is faced with finding a way to fill the emptiness he has left behind.
Matt will miss seeing his daughter blossom from a tomboy into a full- blown teenager. Alice will learn to drive, join the track team, go to her first dance, and fall in love, all while trying to be strong for her mother, Angie, and take care of her precocious little sister, Ellie. But the smell of Matt is starting to fade from his blue shirt that Alice wears everyday, and the phone calls are never long enough.
Alice Bliss is a profoundly moving coming-of-age novel about love and its many variations--the support of a small town looking after its own; love between an absent father and his daughter; the complicated love between an adolescent girl and her mother; and an exploration of new love with the boy-next- door. These characters' struggles amidst uncertain times echo our own, lending the novel an immediacy and poignancy that is both relevant and real. At once universal and very personal, Alice Bliss is a transforming story about those who are left at home during wartime, and a teenage girl bravely facing the future.
Now, for what I thought:
If I were using a star rating, I think the highest that I could go on this one would be 2.5.
While I greatly empathized with the hardship, and later grief, that this family was going through and realize that this has been and still is a reality for far too many families in our country, there were several character development issues that I couldn't quite get passed.
Not that I am any expert on child behavior, but I couldn't get past the feeling that the author hasn't spent much time around children and/or teenagers. The 8-year-old daugther in the novel, Ellie, was a bit too precocious to be believable. In response to some of words and actions of Alice and other same-age characters, I just found myself furrowing my brow and thinking to myself, "Really?"
Then, there is the mother, Angie. I felt like I was being led (by the author) to empathize with her as well, but couldn't feel anything but a slight disgust for her as this supposedly adult, professional women basically fell apart and completely neglected her children. Not that I don't believe that this can happen...I am very well aware that there are mothers who certainly do neglect their children. However, I didn't feel that the author had offered enough evidence in Angie's character leading up to the event that made this response believable.
All of this left me wondering if the author was a mother herself, so I did a little research and could not find any reference to her having children anywhere.
I cannot say that I was surprised.
NEXT ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Ape House: A Novel by Sara Gruen