Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Desire Lines

Summary: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about friendship and the memories that haunt us.

On the night of her high school graduation, Kathryn Campbell sits around a bonfire with her four closest friends, including the beautiful but erratic Jennifer. “I’ll be fine,” Jennifer says, as she walks away from the dying embers and towards the darkness of the woods. She never comes back.

Ten years later, Kathryn has tried to build a life for herself, with a marriage and a career as a journalist, but she still feels the conspicuous void of Jennifer’s disappearance. When her divorce sends her reeling back to the Maine town where she grew up, she finds herself plunged into a sea of memories. With nothing left to lose, she is determined to answer one simple question: What happened to Jennifer Pelletier? -- William Morrow

At this year's BEA, I attended a really great event hosted by the fine folks at Harper Collins. They presented some of their "best books" for Fall 2014, and I became very excited about a few of them. (Well, actually more than a few!) I also remember discovering that they were going to re-release a few of Christina Baker Kline's novels after she had so much success with ORPHAN TRAIN.  I loved ORPHAN TRAIN and just knew I had to read some of her prior work.

The first one of her novels that captured my interest was DESIRE LINES. DESIRE LINES appealed to me because it was part women's fiction/part mystery -- two of my favorite genres. The story takes place ten years after Kathryn Campbell's high school graduation when Kathryn returns home to Maine to deal with some issues from her past... and present. She is also running away from her troubled marriage!

On the night of their high school graduation, Kathryn's best friend Jennifer walks into the woods and is never seen again. No one ever heard from her and no body was ever recovered. Kathryn has tried to build a life as a wife and a journalist, but she can't escape the uncertainly of what happened to her best friend. She teams up with a friend from high school, who is also a fellow journalist; and together, they discover that Jennifer had her fair share of secrets and wasn't what she seemed. Jennifer becomes determined to get to the bottom of what really happened to Jennifer that night, and she quickly learns that someone doesn't want her digging into the past.

I really liked DESIRE LINES. I won't go so far as to say I liked it as much as ORPHAN TRAIN, but it was very good book that was both well written and intriguing. I definitely enjoyed Kathryn's journey into her past and her attempt to reconcile her issues in the present; and I also enjoyed the mystery aspect of the novel.

One thing that definitely stood out to me about DESIRE LINES was the writing itself. I loved ORPHAN TRAIN and was extremely impressed with Ms. Kline's writing, and while this book wasn't quite as polished (in my opinion), her storytelling skills still shone through. I really appreciated how she developed Kathryn's character and showed how she evolved throughout the course of the story.

I found Kathryn to be an extremely interesting character and I think that was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this story so much. She was extremely complex because she was dealing with so much baggage -- both from her past and the present. I liked that the author delved into her memories from the past and showed that Kathryn remembered things very differently and both saw things that weren't there and missed things that were. (Isn't that the case for all of us when it comes to memories?)

Furthermore, I really enjoyed the mystery angle of DESIRE LINES -- I almost featured this novel as part of Mystery Mondays because it was that good. I was kept guessing until the end, not only for who did it but why; and I thought the author did a great job of revealing the mystery. As Kathryn explored Jennifer's disappearance, she discovered many new clues about her friend that were both pertinent to solving the mystery.... and important to Kathryn coming to terms with her past.

You shouldn't be surprised that DESIRE LINES would make a great book club selection. There is a reading guide with twelve interesting questions. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include marriage, loss, grief, redemption, choices, consequences,"desire lines," high school drama, and friendship.

DESIRE LINES is a well-written literary mystery that I highly recommend to fans of women's fiction. I will be sure to read more of Ms. Kline's novels in the very near future.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I can see why Jennifer's disappearance would haunt Kathryn. You've piqued my interest!

Beth F said...

I like mysteries and Maine, so now I'm intrigued by this one.

Kim@Time2Read said...

I liked orphan train a lot! This one has me intrigued. Going on my 'must read' list! Thanks!