HENRY, THE HEART OF THE FAMILY — A REVIEW

Henry is the heart of the Bommarito family. During their early childhood, River, the mother, often sank into a deep depression that felled her for days and weeks; her daughters, Cecilia, Isabelle, and Janie tried to manage. Caring for themselves, each other, and mostly for Henry—who is mentally challenged and often needs their assistance, as well as their protection.

Cecilia and Isabelle are fraternal twins, but they often feel each other’s anger, pain, and sadness. Janie copes by counting, checking, and isolating herself; she also writes bestselling crime novels. Isabelle is a well-known photographer, now sidelined from that career due to the horror she has witnessed in troubled parts of the world and a secret pain she keeps to herself. She also deals with certain aspects of her history by “sleeping around.” Cecilia is the one who remained close to home, but copes by overeating and lashing out at those around her.

When River requires surgery, Isabelle and Janie come home to Trillium River, the small Oregon village where their grandmother has a house, and where River has been living for several years. They are needed to help care for Henry and their grandmother, who believes she is Amelia Earhart.

Coming home brings many of the childhood memories to the forefront, and as each of Henry’s sisters tries to deal with their mother and each other, they experience all over again the troubled and painful life brought about by their mother’s neglect, frequent verbal abuse, and the abandonment by their father.

Henry’s Sisters is narrated in the first-person voice of Isabelle, but we soon come to understand and know each of the sisters and feel their emotional connections; despite their pain and anger, sometimes directed at one another, they clearly love and need each other.

So when one crisis after another challenges them, what will they do to get through? How will the family bakery begin to inspire their creativity and feed their souls? And when an unexpected reappearance from the past brings up unwelcome feelings, how will they cope?

As one final sad blow brandishes its fierceness, bringing out the best and worst in them, what will ultimately remind them again of the strength of their love for one another?

I enjoyed meeting and connecting with the characters in this book, all flawed, somewhat quirky, and totally human. I was sad to close the final page on this family. I could relate to aspects in each of them, but felt especially connected to Isabelle, trying to make a life on her terms, even as she struggled with the demons of her past. Five stars.


MEETING THE WORLD WITH HOPE IN HER HEART — A REVIEW

Deeply hidden secrets spark the storyline in Heather Gudenkauf’s second book, and we only gradually come to know them, as they are revealed in snippets throughout the novel.

Told in alternating points of view, we meet each character, one by one, and come to understand their connections to one another and to a little boy named Joshua.

Allison’s horrific crime strikes a chord with anyone who has ever given birth and felt the need for secrecy. What we learn later is shocking and somewhat understandable, given the nature of the other characters and their backstory.

Charm plays a role, as does Claire; Brynn’s role seems more like a supporting one…at least in the beginning.

I loved the pace that gradually defined who the characters were and their relationship to the core plot of These Things Hidden. In short chapters devoted to each character, there is a subtle unfolding in dramatic bursts that leads finally to a satisfying conclusion. Five stars! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves dramatic stories of family, secrets, and the connections that bind people to one another.

FRIDAY MEMES: BEGINNINGS & FRIDAY 56 – JAN. 14

 

 

 

Good morning!  Welcome to our Friday memes, hosted by Katy (A Few More Pages), and Freda (The Friday 56).

For our Book Beginnings, we simply post one or two opening sentences, and then share our reactions to them

For Friday 56:

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it here.

Today, I’d like to share a book on my reading list that’s been on my stacks for awhile.  Thanks to some of my challenges (including my personal TBR challenge), it has now moved up on the list!

Straight Into Darkness, by Faye Kellerman, is a murder mystery.  It’s a tale about 1920s Munich, Germany, and a murdered young society wife.  The brutal crime is further twisted by the artful arrangement of the victim’s clothes and hair—a madman’s portrait of  death….

Beginning:  I paint because I am still able to do so.  Stiff and knobby, my fingers can bend just enough to grasp a brush and dip the boar bristles into puddles of reds:  crimson, ruby, garnet, cinnabar, rose, rust, magenta, vermilion, Venetian—the list seems endless—turning my wooden palette into the full tonal spectrum. (from the Prologue, New York – 2005)

Beginning:  Munich – 1929:  “Papa, it’s them again!”

The banging on the door accompanied by the panic in Joachim’s voice roused Berg to action.

I thought it might be important to present both time periods.  From the second one, we’re right in some kind of action…in the first, I suspect that our narrator is struggling to deal with horrible memories…

 

P. 56:  Berg said, “And you know that for certain, Herr Haaf?  That the baby did not belong to her husband?”

Uh-oh, I’m guessing we might have uncovered someone’s motive!

 

What tidbits are you sharing today?  I hope you’ll stop by and leave your links….