Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Fragile & Giveaway

Summary: Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous.

Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely. Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn. In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father.

“I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.”

As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them? - Shaye Areheart Books

When I read the background behind the novel FRAGILE by Lisa Unger, I immediately knew that I wanted to read it. FRAGILE is very loosely based on a real-life event from Unger's own life. When Ms. Unger was in high school, one of her classmates was abducted and murdered. She obviously was deeply affected by this event -- how could you not be? -- as was the entire town. Evidently, Ms. Unger has been thinking about this murder for decades; and all of her thoughts have finally culminated in her latest novel FRAGILE.

I admit to being a little caught off guard by FRAGILE, but not in a bad way! I guess I was expecting more of a typical Lisa Unger book -- one that was filled with suspense and intrigue; however, FRAGILE really is more about the ramifications that a crime has on a town and its people. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Ms. Unger captured the feel of a small town, and I thought she did a terrific job of developing the complex characters that lived there. In fact, Ms. Unger did such a great job of bringing the small town to life that I would go so far as to say that it became a character in its own right. I think many readers will recognize traits of their own hometown in the fictional one in this novel.

I really thought the premise behind this book was interesting -- a teenage girl goes missing and it reminds the entire town of a murder case that occurred over 30 years ago. The novel not only explores the effect of these crimes on the town, but it also explores the devastating effects that the original crime had on the individuals who were involved. I was extremely impressed with how Ms. Unger portrayed the character of Jones. He was so guilt-ridden about his past that it consumed every aspect of his life -- his marriage, his parenting, his job, etc. However, I also really appreciated the character of Maggie and I thought her relationship with Jones as well as her reactions to him were very believable.

One thing I really liked about FRAGILE was how well Ms. Unger "delivered" the story. I knew she could write based on her prior best-selling novels, but I don't think I fully appreciated what a beautiful writer she is. I thought she developed some flawed, yet very memorable (and believable) characters, but I also thought her prose was almost lyrical at times (especially when she described the characters' emotions.) I also loved how she wove the theme of the fragility throughout the story as it related to the characters, their secrets, their relationships, and even their lives.

If your book club is looking for something a little different than the typical women's fiction books out there, then you might want to consider FRAGILE. The book does have that "feel" of a thriller, while at the same time, deeply exploring the human psyche. The characters are extremely complex, and as a result, will make for a fascinating discussion. I couldn't find a formal reader's guide; however, I don't think you'll have any problem coming up with things to talk about. Some of the themes in this novel include marriage, secrets, deception, parent/child relationships, abuse, healing, forgiveness and redemption.

If you are a fan of Lisa Unger's or if you like emotionally complex novels, then I suggest reading FRAGILE.

Thanks to BookSparks PR and the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.

Giveaway alert: I have an extra copy of FRAGILE to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below. Comments on this post will not count as entries. I will accept entries until August 18th at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!


bermudaonion said...

I'm in the middle of the book right now and I really like it so far!

Beth Hoffman said...

I've read good things about this book, and it sounds like it might be right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation, Julie ... terrific review!

S. Krishna said...

I had the same reaction to this book - I was surprised that it wasn't a straight suspense/mystery novel, yet that didn't detract from my enjoyment at all. Great review!

katsrus said...

I have not read any of her books. Sounds very good.
Sue Brandes

Jo-Jo said...

Thanks for the review Julie. I think I've stayed away from this author because I usually don't enjoy the thriller/suspense genre. But this one sounds like it has a lot more to it so I'm going to have to check it out!

karenk said...

thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Just me, dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Beth F said...

Oh wow. Sounds like my kind of book. thanks for getting me interested in it and for hosting a giveaway.

angie said...

Thanks for the giveaway!!

The Glorious & The Brave said...

I am anxious to read this book! I am a Penn State grad and fan. Do you live in PA?

Suzy said...

Sounds like a good book! I'm in the middle of the Jean Auel series right now and could take a breather.

I'm a new reader - I found your site while searching for a Dallas book club.