Sunday, August 5, 2012

Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff

On a warm June day, Maura Corrigan is walking with her nine-year-old son, James, as he rides his bike to school. The unthinkable happens: he darts onto the street and is hit by Alex, a 17-year-old neighbor. As if James's death isn't tragic enough for the Corrigan family, in its wake an intricate web of relationships, secrets, and betrayals begins to unravel.

Told through the perspective of four family members, Those We Love Most chronicles how this sudden twist of fate forces each of them to confront their choices, examine their mistakes, and fight for their most valuable relationships. It asks the age-old question: Why do we hurt the ones we love most? Then it shows us how we can, in the most difficult of times, forgive ourselves and others for our transgressions.

At once thoughtful, penetrating, and engrossing, this debut is a family saga that will satisfy readers of The Summer We Fell Apart, The Deep End of the Ocean, and The Secret Between Us.

I love literary fiction. There is something so satisfying about the beautiful writing stitched along a complex, emotional plot. This book is a wonderful example of this genre.

This is, of course, a character-driven book much more than a plot-driven one, though this does not mean there isn’t a good structure around the lovely writing. In this case, it’s seeing how an entire family falls apart and recovers from the death of one of its members. There is always a danger with these kinds of books of getting a bit melodramatic, but this one managed to avoid that very well. The characters respond to their grief in very real, believable ways. There is no melodrama, just real-life suffering.

The writing is lush and intimate despite the book being written in third person. It was also quite interesting to see the author attempt different characters’ voices. Some of them worked, others not so much. Sometimes one sounded like the others. But that’s being picky, I suppose, when the rest is so nicely done.

If you like literary fiction, if you like lovely stories (though this one is a sad one), then I do recommend this book. I, for one, will be looking for this author’s future books.

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