Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Broken For You, Stephanie Kallos

I was a little late in actually getting around to reading this one. The life of a bookseller is fraught with advanced reader copies of books you need to read to push when they hit the shelves, re-discovering old books, stumbling across hidden treasures - and you must read them all!! Or at least identify them and learn a substantial bit about them from trustworthy resources. Argh! So, yes, I didn't read Secret Life of Bees until it had already been out in paperback for many moons and the author had already published another novel that was selling like mad. It's easy to get behind, needless to say.

So this last October at the Wisconsin Book Festival (mahvelous event!), I got to listen to Stephanie Kallos and Mya Goldberg speak and read bits of their works. I knew that Kallos' novel was a big hit with booksellers and readers alike. I knew I needed to read it. Listening to her read from the first chapter, I was smitten. Of course, it took until a couple weeks ago to actually start reading it. I went the audio-book route, however. I can read while going on walks or driving in the car (audiobooks are a GODSEND - audiobooks on iPod? Greatest combination of greatest inventions ever!). Kudos to the reader, first of all. She was a delight. ANd anyone who reads audiobooks knows that the reader can make or break a book.

I loved this book. There were turns in the plot and additions of character I had not expected. And they were believable, the twists and turns. The character development was so incredibly honest!! More prosaic than poetry, more of a character study than intricate plot. It is an experience worth having....letting these people into your lives and making their hopes and dreams yours. While I didn't leave it feeling wowed, it was so satisfying a read that I felt more in touch with my own humanness when I was done. I do fear that the author used every trick in her book to write this and that her next novel won't be nearly as splendid. Unless this was just the unlocking of herself novelistically (yes, I just made that up), being the emobodiment of the rule: "Write what you know", and the next one will surpass what she knows without losing any of its honesty about people and emotions.

I can only hope.

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