#39 The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (see my review here). I loved Morton’s language and her ability to weave past and present storylines together, blending to create a beautiful story and surprising mystery. And I’m a sucker for a long book.
I “liked” The House at Riverton, but didn’t love it. The wonderful writing and clever story were still there, but I just didn’t feel the same connection to the characters. Riverton tells the story of Grace, a young girl who is sent by her sick mother to work at the Riverton estate in the years before WWI. Grace becomes obsessed with the family that lives there -- Lord Ashbury and his extended family, in particular the grandchildren David, Emmeline, and Hannah.
The story switches between the past (as Grace spends time at the house, and eventually becomes maid and confidant to Hannah), and the present, where a 98 year old Grace helps a young film director who is making a movie about a scandal and murder that happened at Riverton (and that Grace happened to witness).
While I enjoyed the detail of the “Upstairs/Downstairs” life at Riverton, I just didn’t care all that much for Grace and the choices she made. Still, Morton is a talent, and I’ll definitely be adding The Forgotten Garden to my list for Cannonball 2012.
#40 Where She Went by Gayle Forman
I also recently read If I Stay, the heartbreaking story of Mia, the young girl who loses her entire family in a car accident and then must decide to die with them or to stay and live with her grandparents and her boyfriend, Adam (read my review here).
Where She Went takes place three years later, and is told from Adam’s perspective, which is a nice change of pace. It seems that since Mia woke from her coma, she went of to Juilliard to become a star cellist, and then just stopped talking to Adam, more of less breaking up with him.
Adam is now a huge rock star, with a movie star girlfriend, but he is still hung up on Mia. One day in New York, Adam is on a layover, on his way to London for a world tour, when he sees that Mia has a concert that night. He gets a ticket and stops backstage to see her...and then they spend the night walking the city and talking. Both are looking for closure to their relationship but are afraid to really open up to each other.
My one issue with this book was that I didn’t like the character of Mia AT ALL this time around, and could not wrap my head around the fact that Adam would drop everything for a high school girlfriend that he hadn’t heard from in almost three years. But still, a nice bookend to the original, and glad to have another point of view to the story.
#41 Blood Red Road by Moira Young
I recently read a review of Blood Red Road here on the Cannonball site, and for some reason, it stuck in my mind. When I saw it at the library, I picked it up and stuck it in my bag, and then sort of forgot about it. A week later, it was poking out of my library bag and I decided to give it a read -- and I’m quite glad I did.
Like many dystopian future YA stories, Blood Red Road is the story of a young girl (Saba) who must fight against evil to hold on to what little she has. Her life is changed in an instant, when men cloaked in black come riding onto her farm and proceed to kill her father and kidnap her twin brother Lugh before riding off. Saba swears that she will come after him...but what will she do with her annoying 8 year old sister, Emmi?
Saba and Emmi travel across desert and mountain, meeting new and dangerous people along the way, and forging a small army of warriors who want to fight along with her to destroy the people who took Lugh away.
Many of the reviews that I’ve read of this book spend a lot of time complaining about the language and style of writing used by Young. Saba speaks in a strange English dialect that is a bit odd at first, but easy enough to get used to (much easier than reading an Irvine Welsh novel -- at least you don’t need a glossary!), and the text doesn’t have any quotation marks to spell out who is speaking. I think this is a minor issue and actually works well with the particular story. If nobody from Saba’s time even knows how to read or write, then to me, the language fits.
Supposedly, this is the first in a proposed trilogy (shock!). I”ll be sure to pick up the next one to see what happens to Saba and her crew.