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The Book of Someday

The Book of Someday
Dianne Dixon

Olivia grew up with a father who wqs physically present but emotionally and mentally checked out. Her stepmother was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive. Now an adult,  Olivia has turned her experiences into a novel that is selling well. But she still anticipates that everyone she meets will hurt and reject her.
When she meets Andrew at a party, she is charmed by the handsome stranger. He wins her over with romantic trips and expensive gifts. But is he too good to be true? Has Olivia found the love of her or just another man that will leave her?

Micah is an artist, world-renowned for her photography. But her photos never have any people in them. When she receives a serious medical diagnosis, she wonders if it is punishment for things she has done. Instead of getting medical treatment, she begins to travel around the country trying to get in touch with people she has wronged. Can Micah have a second chance? Or does she have to die to pay for what she has done?

AnnaLee is a young married woman who loves her husband, Jack, and daughter, Bella. But she struggles because Jack doesn’t work hard and provide for the family. Their lives are thrown into disarray when Jack’s teenage neice (who wants to be called Persephone) comes to stay with them for the summer. AnnaLee struggles to love the unhappy wild girl the same way she loves Bella. Can Jack man up for his wife and child? Can AnnaLee’s love and patience win over Persephone? Or is it too late- have their choices already gone too far?

The stories of these three women- Olivia, Micah and AnnaLee- are of course linked. The author does an excellent job, tho, of drawing the stories together gradually; so that the reader starts to put the puzzke together but is still a little surprised when the last piece clicks into place.

The Book of Someday is a beautiful story, and the characters have a lot of depth. Each of them grows throughout the story in ways I didn’t anticipate when I opened the book.
The one criticism that I have of the book is that perfect strangers tended to share well-articulated insights into their innermost selves upon first meeting people. I understand why the author did this- she was trying to show not tell- but it struck an unrealistic note.
Can I just mention that the cover was exceptional? The “notecard” image was raised with textured edges. That was what first drew me to this book.

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You might like: The Language of Flowers, Diffenbaugh.

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Sisterland

Sisterland
Curtis Sittenfeld

Kate is, to all appearances, a normal suburban housewife who loves her husband and her two very small children. Her twin sister Vi- lesbian, pot-smoking Vi- is anything but. The sisters share a secret, tho- they are psychic. Not normal twin secret language psychic, but actual predicting the future, locating kidnap victims psychic. When Vi predicts a major earthquake in sleepy St. Louis, cracks begin to appear in the carefully laid foundation of Kate’s life. Old faultlines of family conflict buckle up against the present. When the shaking stops, nothing is quite like it was before.
The plot of this story is pretty good. One of the things that I enjoyed is that, while Kate is skeptical of psychic senses, the author really never deals with them as anything other than very real. The ending feels perhaps slightly cliche but has enough surprises tucked in to keep you turning pages til the last one.
At its heart, tho, this is a story about family relationships: parents and children, husbands and wives, sisters. The insight that the author brings to her portrayal of these relationships is what really sets this book apart.
I also had the delightful pleasure, while reading this book, to stumble across thoughts which had lazed inarticulate in my brain until I saw the author’s description, and then I knew instantly, “yes! exactly that!” Writing like this is rare and something I treasure.
Up until now, Curtis Sittenfeld’s books have been what I consider smart chick lit. This turn into more complicated, insightful writing has been very well done, and I hope she writes more like this soon.
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You might like: Her Fearful Symetry, Audrey Niffinger. Story Sisters, Alice Hoffman