Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

image from LibraryThing
A mystery first spun in the mind of an alcoholic divorcee and then spilling into her reality.  Rachel imagines and wonders and stews and buries her loneliness and despair in a bottle.  She just can't let go of Tom, her ex, or the fantasy of the couple she glimpses through the flickering windows of her train car.  This story comes out in flicks and sputters just like those images. 

As a reader it took me a while to get into the book - the chapters alternate between voices and dates. And the story is mostly told by Rachel in various states of drunkenness - which adds to the confusion, and adds to the story, to the unreality, to the despair and regret.  

The story is also told by Anna and Megan. Anna is the current wife of Tom, Rachel's ex and Megan is the mystery woman Rachel sees from her train window.  

Very early in the book Megan disappears - completely and totally.  And Rachel decides that she may know what has happened - because she was in town the night of her disappearance.  The problem is that she can't remember anything, really, because she was black out drunk.  How do you make others believe that you know something that you can't really figure out yourself.  How do you face the demons that are there and everywhere?

Our most recent book club book.

Friday, July 3, 2015

STiLL ALiCE by Lisa Genova

I have read many books, some that are forgettable, some that I can't put down, and some that I know I will haunt me.  This is one that will stay with me for a long time, a very long time.

Alice, a brilliant professor, loses her place on a jog- suddenly the streets surrounding her home shift to an unknown terrain.  And when they shift back to the familiar she realizes that her life has also shifted.  This book walks with Alice to the first doctorĘ»s visit, to the first neurological test and to get the moment that her terror is named- Alzheimer's. At each of these moments Alice is both her old self and this unknown new apparition that Alzheimer's is creating.  

This isn't a melodrama or a feels-good-happy-ending kind of story where the family lines up and cheers for this poor mom.  Instead, John, her husband, is sort of an ass - avoiding conversations and pretending that HIS life needs to not change.  Lydia, the youngest daughter, on the other hand, connects with her mom in a way she never could with the old Alice.  I liked the reality of the mixed reactions and emotions- because it allowed me to confront my own avoidance and patronizing habits.

Although this is a deeply sad story it is more than that.  Walking hand and hand with the loss of her memory Alice speaks out for those with Alzheimer's in a refreshing way.  She advocates for herself and others even speaking at a conference.  This is not the story of a battle but of a rugged path that absolutely no one would choose!

Through it all Alice is herself with an Alzheimer's coat wrapping her more and more tightly.  

Read it!