Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: The Winters in Bloom

Summary: ogether for over a decade, Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, who they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that this domestic bliss couldn't last - that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they've always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it's not too late to have the family they've dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.

Lyrical, wise, and witty,
The Winters in Bloom is Lisa Tucker's most optimistic work to date. This enchanting, life-affirming story will charm readers and leave them full of wonder at the stubborn strength of the human heart. -- Atria

At this year's BEA, I was fortunate enough to meet author Lisa Tucker and receive an autographed copy of her latest novel THE WINTERS IN BLOOM. I was even luckier to have the opportunity to spend a few minutes having drinks with Ms. Bloom and talking about her new book. I knew Ms. Bloom was a somewhat local author because she lives in Philadelphia (and when you live in Central PA, you'll take credit for anyone within a two hour radius!) But what I also discovered is that Ms. Bloom used to live just a few minutes from my current residence. Now that's definitely what I consider a local author!

So it was with much anticipation that I picked up THE WINTERS IN BLOOM. Of course, I really wanted to like it because I felt as if I had some mini-connection to the author, but I had also read some pretty good reviews for the book. Heck... Pat Conroy is blurbed on the front cover and it's an Indie Next List Great Read Selection. And I did like THE WINTERS IN BLOOM. In fact, I liked it a lot -- mainly because it wasn't a typical read for me. I just don't know if I'd go so far as to say it was one of my favorite books of the past few months.

There were a number of things that I did appreciate about THE WINTERS IN BLOOM though. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about this novel was how unique it was. In fact, I don't know exactly how to describe the book. It was part mystery but it definitely didn't fit clearly into that classification. On the other hand, it was part psychological thriller... but that just doesn't seem right either. And lastly, it was a literary novel with well-developed characters (and that I can say with certainty.) It was definitely a unique story and I enjoyed the topics and characters that it explored.

When I first picked up THE WINTERS IN BLOOM, I thought that it was going to be a book about the search for a missing child -- more of a mystery, if you will. And it was to a certain extent. However, it was so much more than that too. It was truly a well-written book that explored some pretty heavy themes and some extremely complex characters. Initially, I thought I could discuss the themes on their own, but I quickly realized that the themes and characters are so closely entwined that it's impossible to discuss one without the other. Through the various actions of the characters, this novel delved into so many universal themes including love, families, and redemption. In fact, I found THE WINTERS IN BLOOM to be a touching story, and at the same time, an extremely thought-provoking novel.

While an important part of the story takes place in the present with the quest to find little Michael, Ms. Tucker effectively uses flashbacks of the characters' prior lives as a means to develop their characters. I found it fascinating to not only learn about these characters, but also to see some of the reasons that they are the way they are today. Some of the flashback portions of the novel seem almost to be separate stories; however, by the end of the novel, everything comes together to a satisfactory conclusion. I have to give Ms. Tucker kudos for how well she presented this story and how great her writing was.

At its heart, THE WINTERS IN BLOOM explores family dynamics -- both the good and the bad, the normal and the dysfunctional (although I'd have to say there was a lot more dysfunction than normalcy) -- through the lives of these diverse characters. I appreciated how this novel touched upon so many familial relationships, husband and wife, parent and child, sisters, in-laws (and even ex in-laws), and many more. I think every single character in this story was flawed (and I mean deeply flawed) and it certainly made me think about the effects that our past experiences have on our current lives.

You can probably tell by now that THE WINTERS IN BLOOM would make a fantastic book club pick. There is a reading guide available which explores so many of the topics that I mentioned earlier. As a recap, some of the themes you might want to further explore include family dynamics, the effects of past events in a person's life, insecurity, trust, forgiveness, loss, guilt, grief, fear, redemption, and secrets. In addition, you might want to discuss the meaning and/or symbolism of the book's title.

I definitely recommend checking out Lisa Tucker's THE WINTERS TO BLOOM. It's a novel that explores the frailties of human nature and family dynamics, and I'm pretty confident in saying that you will enjoy the story as well as the effect it will have on you.


Sandy Nawrot said...

You have definitely piqued my interest. I love books that are slightly off the path.

Col (Col Reads) said...

Wow, this really does sound compelling -- I love books that give you lots to think about!

Beth F said...

I've been wanting to read this since BEA too -- I love the description of part mystery, part thriller, and part literary fiction. Sounds like I'd love it.

Anonymous said...

I've been seeing so many very positive and thoughtful reviews of this and I'm dying to read it.

Jill said...

Great review. I really enjoyed this one, too. She's a very consistent author!

bermudaonion said...

Wow, it sounds like this book delves into some pretty heavy stuff. I hope to get to it soon!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Interesting idea that there's more than one candidate in the characters' personal lives that could have done this! Sounds very intense!

Melanie said...

I just finished the book. The more I think on it, the more I like the book. It is extremly well written, but not so "literary" as to be a struggle to read. And the characters are so interesting.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I have this on my TBR for awhile now. Can't wait to find time to read it!