I am not really sure what it is that isn't working for me in relation to this book. The language is challenging, the tone of the book is kind of dense. The characters have hope but as a reader you can't help but feel that hope is misplaced, certainly in the first half of the book.
In last week's post I tried to tip toe around this but I don't think I can do that this week.
I do know what one factor I am struggling with is but it is something that I can't talk about at length without kind of spoiling. I say kind of because this is revealed in the very beginning chapter of the book so it can't be a huge spoiler, but it does or rather, it should influence the characters for the rest of the book!
The main female character is Noah, and we learn very early on in the book that she was sexually abused by her uncle and had a baby as a result. We are left to assume what happens to the baby, as is Noah, and that aspect works okay for me in terms of her wondering about the child and feeling guilty about abandoning her child. Where it isn't working for me in terms of Noah's emotional reactions to being sexually abused.
Now, to be fair, sexual abuse is a hot button issue for me and so it does have to be very well written for me to read it, but having the choice to read or not read a book featuring these themes I would choose not to. There was nothing in any of the promotional material that I have seen that indicated that these are the types of issues that feature and in a way I feel kind of ambushed by it.
I guess the thing is that the character's emotional journey doesn't feel real to me, bearing in mind that we obviously don't see every waking moment of every day. Noah seems to have transitioned from young girl to teen to wife to mother with barely a nod to the emotional upheaval that each of these events would necessarily have to someone with that background.
Let me give you an example. One of the major issues in the story is the onset of a mysterious illness to Rowley who is Noah's husband. It is only as Rowley starts to get sick that we start to see the emotional effects on Noah - a volcanic tempo, drinking etc and to me they seem to be more of a reaction to those events rather than to her past. To be honest, I was a little relieved to see any reaction at that point.
Rowley is gradually losing feeling in his limbs and has lost sexual functionality as well. Noah is quite rightly feeling neglected in this area and so she tries to raise some interest. When that fails she basically thinks to herself that at least my uncle wouldn't have let my effort go to waste.
I can only reflect on the stories that I know from various survivor's account, but I am pretty sure that none of the adult survivors of abuse that I know would have that thought pattern. When that happened, and it happened more than once, I actually felt physically sick.
I know that every survivor's story and reactions are different so maybe there are some who do have these thought patterns, but I can tell you right now that even after being by myself for more than nine years there is not one night that I lay in bed and think something like that about the man that abused me.
It feels as though the focus of the book is about to shift from Noah and Rowley to their daughter Lainey, so I will keep reading, but at this stage I can't see this being a book that I will be able to say I enjoyed. Then again, it may well be a book that keeps me thinking for a long time - hopefully not in a bad way.
To see what the other bloggers participating in the readalong thought visit the following links:
The Book Nerd Club
The Talking Teacup
My Journal of Becoming a Writer
Fantasy vs Reality
Slightly Addicted to Fiction
The Book Nook