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Review: The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields
By Phillip Lewis
Hogarth Press, Hardcover, 9780451495648, March 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A father and son story but really a story about family relationships and what it means to come home.

The Rest of It:

Henry Aster’s father returns to the small Appalachian town where he grew up and moves his family into a house with a past. The dark, immense home was once the scene of a grisly murder involving young children. Its looming presence foreshadowing the unraveling of the family to come.

From the description it sounds like a ghost story and maybe it is but not the kind you’d be expecting. This story focuses on the relationship between father and son, missed-opportunities, and at its heart, how we process grief and loss.

After a terrible loss, Henry’s father, a brilliant man trying to reinvent himself as a writer, struggles with what he’s been dealt. The entire family struggles with him but in different ways. Instead of coming together, they push each other away and it’s incredibly heartbreaking to witness.

There is a lot of good to be had in this novel. The writing is lovely but the Asters are readers so there are plenty of literary references that I jotted down. I love when books mention other books. But what I really loved was the slow build of what eventually causes the family to fall apart. There is a lot of tension in this novel which made the page turns go that much faster.

However, one section of the novel strayed from the main story which seemed a little out of left field but I was very happy to see how it fit into the story as a whole once I got to the end of the book. The final pages are gold. I reread them many times and loved them to pieces.

One of my favorite books of all time is A Separate Peace by John Knowles and although The Barrowfields is nothing like that book in story, the “coming-of-age” aspect of this novel reminds me a lot of A Separate Peace and yes, maybe even the main character reminds me of it, too.

I say, read it.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow

The Fall of Lisa Bellow

The Fall of Lisa Bellow
By Susan Perabo
Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781476761466, March 14, 2017, 352pp.

The Short of It:

A tense, finely orchestrated tale of what happens to a person when guilt works its way through you from the inside out.

The Rest of It:

Everyone has known a “Lisa Bellow” in their lifetime. Lisa is that pretty girl who can wear a pair of ugly shoes and somehow make them fashionable. She’s the girl who every other girl strives to be and she knows it. She can cut you down with a look or a couple of words and no matter how confident you are, the hurt takes its toll.

This is the story of Lisa and Meredith, victims of a sandwich shop robbery. Both, told to hit the floor. Both, scared for their lives. Only one taken as a hostage. As Lisa is forced to leave with the robber, Meredith stays on the ground, fearful for her life but is that the only reason she chooses to remain there?

The Fall of Lisa Bellow was a perfect read for me. It had everything I like in a book and then that human nature thing kicked in and I could not put it down. I kept asking myself, “Where is Lisa? Is she alive? Is it just a set-up? Where in God’s name can she be?” I mean, this story really worked my brain but in a totally good way.

Meredith, is also a victim. She’s the one left behind and the one who bears the weight of Lisa’s disappearance and it’s heartbreaking. HEARTBREAKING, I tell you! Her memory of the event is not reliable and she questions what would have happened if she had done something differently. Meredith’s mother is protective of her but also feels a sense of guilt as Lisa’s mom continually makes contact with them and with Lisa’s friends, all in a desperate attempt to keep Lisa in her life.

This author gets into each character’s head and really stirs things up. I’m talking childhood memories, hateful feelings, jealousy and spite and no matter how shocking some of it is, it’s not all that shocking given the circumstances. I could relate to every single person in this story and that’s rare. My heart ached for so many of these characters.

You know how hard it is to turn the last page of a novel you love? I think I read the last page at least three times. Get yourself a copy.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.