Friday, June 24, 2011

Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch


First of all, the summary:

On Christmas Eve 1967, Rosemarie McDonald walks out the door of her suburban Melbourne home, leaving her husband behind to raise their four children: Deborah, the eldest at almost 13 and default mother; Robert, the compulsive worrier; James the peacemaker even at eight; and Meredith, the perpetual baby. Decades later, the children have forged their own families, but remain trapped in their original roles and are still somehow waiting for word from Rosemarie. When James rediscovers her on a trip to London, they are all faced with confronting their betrayer, and themselves, and possible forgiveness. Published under the title Listen in Veitch's native Australia, the novel's omniscient narration eavesdrops on the inner lives of each family member and their different ways of coping with abandonment—not all of them healthy. What emerges is a heartfelt yet unsentimental portrait of a family undone by a mother's desire, and its struggle to find ways to keep going and keep together.

With that done, let me say that it took me a while to get into this one. I never considered putting it down, but I just wasn't invested in it. It was easy to read a few pages then forget about it for days. However, I needed to get this one finished for my book challenge, so I picked it up a few days ago and got hard-headed about it.

To my pleasant surprise, I liked this one quite a bit! The characters were different, engaging, had issues and felt very real to me. I had never read a book set in Australia before, and while it didn't play in the story much, it lent a different tone with the colloquialisms. I gave it three stars because it ended a little too tidy and a little too fast. Almost like the author said, "Oh, no! I need to finish this one out!" ha

The book satisfied the Summer Reading Challenge requirement for a book with summer colors on the cover (red, yellow or orange). Overall, I recommend this one for a nice, light read.

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