Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Book Review Wednesday

I recently finished the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. This is yet another bargain book I picked up. It came recommended by the "Today Book Club", and since I am such a big fan of the Today Show (I watch nearly every day) I figured I might give it a try. The back of the book describes the story as "slow burning", and I can't think of a better way to describe the book. Its the story of 4 children, including the narrator, who grow up in a small town called Crow Lake in way northeastern Canada. There is the oldest brother, Luke, the second oldest, Matt, the narrator, Kate and the youngest (merely a baby) Bo. The narrator is speaking from now, reflecting on her life and her childhood. She refers to things that had happened "long ago" and is trying to connect events together in her mind in order to deal with her family and try to reconcile her life now (as a quite successful scientist) and her life growing up in a small town. Very early in the book, her parents are killed in a horrible accident and the family tries to make decisions as to how to care for the young children (herself and Bo) since the boys are quite a bit older. Luke eventually decides, against the rest of the family's wishes, that he will keep the kids, him and Matt will work at odd jobs and they will raise the girls themselves. This is a painful decision (obviously) since Luke is merely 19 years old and Matt is about 17. Bo is just a toddler, so the care of the kids is a major commitment. The entire story does not unfold until the last few pages. The author refers to a series of tragedies that have occurred in Matt's life, but the reader doesn't find out what those are until the end of the novel. It's basically a classic tale of the narrator having a dream for her brother (that he is so smart and he should go to school and get out of Crow Lake) but Matt has other ideas and plans and his leaving Crow Lake ultimately doesn't work out. The narrator has a certain amount of guilt that she was able to escape and her brother did not. She is so disappointed that he is unable to fulfill the dreams she thought he had. The narrator, at times, was hard for me to identify with. She was very closed, not wanting to let anyone in, and not willing to budge from her ideas. At the end of the book, she kind of starts to understand that everyone chooses their own path, but not fully. It's not a "clean" book, that is, not all the loose ends are tied up, but I did enjoy it. I think I did identify with the narrator to a certain degree because it's very hard to reconcile your family lie with what you choose to do with your life, especially if they are very far apart, or very very different.

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