Tag Archives: Families

Review: Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here
By Stewart O’Nan
(Grove Press, Paperback, 9780802139894, April 2003, 528pp.)

The Short of It:

A lovely, heartwarming story about love, loss and what it means to be a family. Easily, one of my favorite books ever.

The Rest of It:

I honestly don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write about this one. I read it so long ago, and yet there was a little piece of me that just wanted to let my mind wander this way and that after finishing it. It’s THAT kind of book. The kind you curl up with and linger over. I really didn’t want it to end. Ever.

But… it did. I wanted to cry when it ended. Not because the story is particularly sad but because I knew I was going to miss these characters dearly. And I do miss them.

After the death of her husband Henry, Emily Maxwell gathers the family for one last hurrah at the family’s cottage on Lake Chautauqua. The cottage has been sold and the task at hand is to enjoy one more pristine summer, and to decide who get’s what as far as its contents.

Gathered together are Emily’s son and daughter. Both of whom have their own families and are dealing with personal issues of their own, her sister-in-law, who also misses Henry dearly and Emily’s aging dog, Rufus. With the adults and kids all trying to get along and a daughter-in-law who doesn’t always see things Emily’s way, the week drags out until it’s inevitable conclusion.

O’Nan’s writing is somewhat magical in this story. He has a knack for taking everyday tasks and making them seem glorious. As this family’s week plays out, I often felt as if I was right there with them, cooking burgers or tubing at the lake. Anyone who has ever taken a family vacation will attest to the accuracy of everything in this novel. The sights and smells (think musty cabin, cluttered garage, sulphurous water) and the overall boredom of the children as the adults get to dictate what they do on any given day.

But tucked within the folds, you’ll find sadness and it will tug at your heart. How do you say goodbye to a place that holds so many memories? Things that bothered you before, like ant infestations, are suddenly precious in the way that lost things are. It’s impossible to fathom and through it all, you have the continuous ebb and flow of everything else around you.

Although long, I adored this book for its realistic depiction of family and although all of the characters had their quirks, I loved them and wanted the best for them and could not stop thinking about them after closing its cover.

The good thing? Is that there is a sequel to this book. Emily Alone continues on with Emily, as she lives alone and goes through the day-to-day of being… well…Emily. I can’t wait to visit her again!

Source: Borrowed
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Review: Lost Boys

Lost BoysLost Boys
By Orson Scott Card
(HarperTorch, Mass Market Paperback, 9780061091315, February 2005, 544pp.)
(Originally published in 1992)

The Short of It:

A touching, moving, all-around great read. A perfect package.

The Rest of It:

Set in the early 80’s, Step Fletcher and his wife DeAnne move to Steuben, North Carolina to begin his new job as a technical writer. With them, are their three kids, Stevie (7), Robbie (4) and their toddler sister Elizabeth. DeAnne and Step are expecting baby number four and life looks promising.  Except, that the job isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and Step’s real passion is designing video games. Having previously been self-employed, Step finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. You see, he’s been hired as a tech writer, yet his real job is to audit code behind his boss’ back which is really, an impossible situation to be in.

On the home front, DeAnne is trying to find her place in this new neighborhood, and since they are of the Mormon faith, they are immediately accepted into their new ward. However, that’s not as perfect as it sounds, as this particular ward has some colorful characters who set out to make things difficult for the Fletcher family. Stevie has an increasingly hard time in school and cannot seem to find his place. The house they live in is plagued by insects (no one knows why) and there is the quite a bit of debt hanging over them all, which forces Step to work in a place that he truly hates.

This novel is classified as a horror story, and I must say, it took quite a bit of time for the horror to sink in but when it did, it took my breath away. It’s not the type of horror that is obvious. It’s the slow realization that something is desperately wrong. While the Fletchers try to settle into their new life, little boys begin to disappear one by one and then it becomes obvious to both DeAnne and Step that Stevie is not quite right.

I loved this novel so much that I turned right around and listened to it on audio. The audio version is read by Stefan Rudnicki who is absolutely fabulous. I’ve never read anything by Orson Scott Card so I had no expectations while reading this book but I don’t think it could have been more perfect.

You must read or listen to this book and then tell me what you think of it. Since it was originally published in ’92, the references to computers and video games is quite dated, but since I work in technology, where everything becomes outdated in just three months’ time, I found this to be quite entertaining. Also, don’t let the religious undertones scare you away. The Mormon faith plays a big role in this novel, but it’s not preachy in any way.

Since I enjoyed Lost Boys so much, I’ve added all of Card’s other books to my “to-read” list. I can’t believe I’ve missed out on his work prior to this. I must have been living under a large rock. Oh, and Stefen Rudnicki on audio…I can’t say enough about him. I’m adding everything he’s done to my list too.

Source: Borrowed from the library.

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