Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bookshelf: Laura Moriarty

I picked up Laura Moriarty's "The Rest of Her Life" a few weeks ago when I raided B&N's $7 and under tables. What drew me to it was obviously the cover and how the girl in the field with her back to the viewer could very well be me. I quickly realized that I could be Kara, the eighteen year old who, distracted by the lost dog she and a friend have put in the back seat of her SUV, isn't paying full attention and hits a pedestrian. I've been there many a time, not quite giving the road the attention it deserves, maybe talking on the phone or chatting with the passengers in the car, or more likely if we're really talking about me, singing a bit too enthusiastically along with the stereo. I've had some close calls where I luckily realized there was someone in the crosswalk and quickly applied pressure to the break. But Kara didn't even notice her fellow classmate until she felt the collision.
The premise is simple - dealing with the aftermath of the accident, managing grief, trying to keep your family together when all you want to do is close the blinds, crawl into bed and never speak to a soul again. But what I found unique about "The Rest of Her Life" is the perspective. I had assumed it would be from Kara's point of view, but actually, the book is all from her mother, Leigh's perspective. It threw me for a loop in the beginning and then I settled into it, although now always agreeing with Leigh's choices.
Leigh and Kara have grown apart over the years and in the wake of the accident Leigh isn't sure how she's supposed to act or what is appropriate to say to help her daughter deal with everything. She's awkward as a parent but it's not for lack of caring. It reminded me a lot of how my mother and I were when I was in high school. Something she'd say wasn't quite right and I'd take offense and close up. I think it's a teenage thing that we (well at least I) grow out of.
I have to be honest with you. I wasn't loving the book for the first half of it. I kept waiting for something gripping to happen, for the trial to begin and courtroom antics to explode, but I realized after a hundred pages that this isn't that type of book. "The Rest of Her Life" is completely about Leigh, how she grew up and how she deals with her daughter killing a fellow student. And after I let go of my need for something dramatic to unfold I started to enjoy it - as much as you can enjoy this sort of content. But I really did feel when I closed the book finally that I had gotten something out of the story. It's well written, it's emotional and real, and more to the point it's the kind of book I love reading.
For more on Laura Moriarty skip over here.
I'm off to New York in a few hours with the new issue of VF and Maggie Stiefvater's "Shiver" in tow. I decided to veer off my usual path with that one, huh. Well there's something to be said for a little diversity in what you read. But back to VF, did you read last month's article on the latest book about Elizabeth Taylor aptly titled "Furious Love"??? It kept me up into the late hours reading that article, staring intently at the pictures, imagining what her life was like back then. Intense, romantic, passionate, frantic love letters. What could make for a better read? I have obviously asked for the book for my birthday. Here's hoping Mom pulls through.
Anyways, I'm off to the big city to romp through the park with the cutest puppies I've ever seen, eat lots of bagels, laugh tons and reminisce with a college roomie, and even, maybe, perhaps do some writing. I don't know what this says of my writing quality, but I'm almost done with my third book. I think there's probably a LOT of editing in my future.
Have a wonderful weekend and picture me lazily typing away on the balcony of a very tall building overlooking the east river.

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