Friday, January 28, 2011
A few days ago I was tweeting about how wonderful the month of January has been for new releases. It seems like I've read one book after another that belong on a "Best of 2011 list," and the year has barely even gotten off the ground. I just finished reading another book that I absolutely adored -- PICTURES OF YOU by Caroline Leavitt. Words cannot express how much I treasured each and every word of this book.
I have to admit that I'm reluctant to write this review for a few of reasons. First, any time I like a book this much I'm afraid that I won't be able to do it justice. I'm sure I will gush and go overboard, and for that reason alone, turn some of you away! And then, there's that whole business that Ms. Leavitt is not only an accomplished author, but she's also a well known book reviewer. Who the heck am I to even try to "review" her book? Talk about intimidating!
There are just so many incredible things about PICTURES OF YOU from the prose, to the character development, to the story itself. I was caught up in this novel within just a few pages -- it really just grabbed me and held on! The story was intriguing and yet heartbreaking, and I loved how complex each of these characters' were. PICTURES OF YOU explored the lasting effects of a terrible accident on the remaining "victims," and I thought Ms. Leavitt managed to capture the essence of loss and grief so honestly. While each character dealt with the accident in a very different way, I could relate to how each one of them processed the pain they were experiencing.
And where to even begin with Ms. Leavitt's writing? -- it's really, really good. The dialogue between the characters is authentic, and her descriptions are so eloquent and beautiful. She managed to make me feel not only as if I could understand each of these characters, but that they were truly real for me. I think that says quite a bit. And while I appreciated everything about she told this story, one thing that brought this book to the next level for me was that I was continually surprised. So often, I thought I knew where she was going with this story; and then, it wasn't at all what I was expecting. PICTURES OF YOU wasn't predictable for me... at all, and I liked that the book's ending wasn't wrapped up in a neat little bow. I'm not even sure the ending was what I wanted, but I will say that I was satisfied and it did make me think. In fact, I'm still wondering about what happens to each of these characters after the novel ends.
My on-line book club is discussing PICTURES OF YOU for February, and I'm so excited. It's a marvelous book for discussion. The characters are so incredibly well-developed and so complex that I'm sure you could talk about just their actions and motivations for hours. In addition, because the book was so written and had so many surprises, you can discuss Ms. Leavitt's writing choices. There is a reading guide included in the back of my book with 15 great questions -- I absolutely loved them; and they actually got me thinking even more about this novel -- which I didn't think was possible. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find an on-line link for the guide. Some of the topics you might want to further explore include escapism, marriage, parenthood, motherhood, grief, loss, love, new beginnings, illness, and forgiveness.
I've tried to express my feelings towards this novel (I know it was major gushing!), and I do hope that you will give it a try. The story is gripping, and at the same time touching; and Ms. Leavitt's writing is positively beautiful. Trust me on this one -- read PICTURES OF YOU!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this wonderful novel!