Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: The Rest of Her Life

The Rest of Her Life
by Laura Moriarty

Why did you choose this book? the cover grabbed my attention as did the blurb comparing it to Jodi Picoult
When did you read this book? June 2013
Who should read this book? readers who enjoy contemporary family drama
Source: library sale shelf
Here is a synopsis of The Rest of Her Life from IndieBound.

In The Rest of Her Life, Laura Moriarty delivers a luminous, compassionate, and provocative look at how mothers and daughters with the best intentions can be blind to the harm they do to one another.

Leigh is the mother of high-achieving, popular high school senior Kara. Their relationship is already strained for reasons Leigh does not fully understand when, in a moment of carelessness, Kara makes a mistake that ends in tragedy -- the effects of which not only divide Leigh's family, but polarize the entire community. We see the story from Leigh's perspective, as she grapples with the hard reality of what her daughter has done and the devastating consequences her actions have on the family of another teenage girl in town, all while struggling to protect Kara in the face of rising public outcry.

Like the best works of Jane Hamilton, Jodi Picoult, and Alice Sebold, Laura Moriarty's The Rest of Her Life is a novel of complex moral dilemma, filled with nuanced characters and a page-turning plot that makes readers ask themselves, "What would I do"

My Review 

I like to browse the ‘sale’ shelf at my local library when I go. Most books are only 50 cents. So when I saw The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty, it was an easy decision to grab it. As always, the first thing that caught my eye was the cover, but the blurb, which compared this novel to a Jodi Picoult novel, also sounded interesting. I have to say, while I did enjoy this book, I would not compare it to Jodi Picoult.

This is the story of a family in the aftermath of tragedy. On the eve of her graduation, just as she is about to begin her life, Kara, a bright, talented young woman, is involved in an accident that takes the life of another student. Some readers have mentioned they felt mislead, because the book doesn’t really center on the feelings of the daughter, but instead of her mother, Leigh. This really didn’t bother me.

This was a quick interesting read, which I enjoyed right until the end. The problem I had with the book was the end, or rather, the lack of an end. There really was no resolution of the storyline at the end of the book. One example is the character of Justin, the younger brother of Kara. He is an intelligent, sensitive young man, and the author implies he is.....what? I’m not sure. Maybe he is gay, maybe he is on the autism spectrum, maybe he has social anxiety. That is a bit of story that is started but not developed. I’m not really even sure why this story was started, unless maybe to show us that her husband had as much trouble relating to his child as Leigh did.

The other thing is the storyline with Kara. Very early, of course, we learn she has had an accident with her SUV that kills another girl. She is devasted with feeling of guilt and feels like she deserves to be punished. We learn this very early. Even at the end, we only know Kara is carrying a great deal of guilt. We don’t know if will ever forgive herself, if she will ever return to school. I really don’t feel like know much more after 300 pages than I did after 50 page!

I almost felt like the author had a page limit and reached it, so had to wrap up the story quickly. Or perhaps she wasn’t sure what happened to the characters, so she left it for the reader to figure out. Either way, the ending was unsatisfactory. I felt the author owed us at least an epilogue skipping forward into the future to give us an idea of what happened with the characters. I did enjoy the book, but the lack of resolution lessened that enjoyment.

My Rating:  ★★★1/2   3-1/2 Stars

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