Monday, February 15, 2010

Shelter Me

Shelter Me
Juliette Fay

Shelter Me is Fay's debut novel. In it, she chronicles the life of a young woman and two children after the tragic and sudden death of her husband. After Robby dies, Janie must try and keep it together for her two young children while dealing with her overwhelming grief. Fay does a wonderful job of showing the stages of grief as well as the twists and turns of motherhood in her first novel.

Janie's husband, Robby, commissioned a porch be built for her as a surprise. Tug Malinowski shows up and surprises her with the plans and Janie allows the porch to be built. Tug is a divorced, attractive man who becomes attracted to Janie but knows she's in no way over her husband and ready to move on.

Fay shows Janie's path to emotional healing through Janie's sometimes short, but pithy journal entries where she talks about how she hates the fucking rain and how pissed she is at her husband for dying. She forms a friendship and attraction to the local priest, Father Jake Sweeney, who has deep, dark secrets of his own and questions his vow of celibacy as he and Janie grow closer.

Fay paints a beautiful portrait of a young woman completely weighted down by grief but with a sense of humor that gets her through even the darkest days. Janie knows she needs to be strong for her children, Dylan who's only 3 or 4 and Carly who's 8 months old. Janie takes joy in watching her children grow and the moments that make motherhood worthwhile. All in all, a great book and a wonderful debut.

Friday, January 1, 2010

U is for Undertow

U is for Undertow
Sue Grafton

Being that U is for Undertow is the 21st book in the series, part of me was hoping it would be as good if not better than the previous books. I definitely wasn't disappointed. It's by far the best one yet. Reading this one made me want to go back and start at A just to re-read the whole series so I can say for sure, without hesitation, that U was the best book of the series.

Kinsey Millhone receives a visit from Michael Sutton, a guy in his 20's that says he saw two men bury the body of a little girl, Mary Claire Fitzhugh, when he was 6 years old. Mary Claire was kidnapped back in 1967 and it's been 21 years with no resolution as to what happens to her. This grabs Kinsey's attention and she agrees to see if she can find the spot that Sutton says the little girl is buried. What she doesn't realize is exactly what she's going to unearth as she continues to investigate Sutton's account.

Grafton takes you seamlessly through one era to another, starting in present day 1988 and going back to 1967. She gives you background information that you're sure will be important later but as you're reading it isn't sure where it fits in. It's so well-written between then and now that it's completely engrossing from the beginning. You learn about different families that grew up in Horton Ravine, the fictional rich part of Santa Teresa, and how their lives intertwined without them being aware of it.

Sutton's credibility is tested a couple times throughout the book and Kinsey is disillusioned and disappointed while still unwilling to let the case go. This case shows how brilliant and smart Kinsey is while she slowly and patiently unravels the keys to the mystery and the tale of what really happened back in 1967.

By far, Sue Grafton is at her best in this novel and it was well worth the wait.