Saturday, June 1, 2013
Book Review - "Those We Love Most"
Two weeks ago I had the incredible pleasure of hearing Lee Woodruff speak at Brookline Booksmith. You can read about in my blog post, "Be In The Moment."
I have spent these last two weeks with Maura and Pete, Sarah and Ryan, Roger and Margaret, Stu and Erin and Alex riding a wave of emotions as they all reel and respond to the accidental death of Maura and Pete's son James. No spoilers here that's for sure. Lee's first novel is a riveting story that draws from the universal experiences of the human condition.
"Those We Love Most", in Lee's words, is a story about resiliency. "It's about the best parts of us; the secrets we choose to keep and how the ones who love us can move us past the hard places and orient us in the right direction." I read "Those We Love Most" before turning in at night and on the beach. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next yet I didn't want the story to end. Someone asked Lee if she missed the characters once she finished the book. She emphatically said, "No!" I did experience a sense of completion and closure when I turned the last page. I do miss everyone with whom I shared an intimate journey of loss, of love, of life.
Lee captures the essence of the complexity of relationships in the younger and older generations. She reveals the internal world of the characters providing us with a window to their souls and a window to the community that surrounds them. In her acknowledgements, Lee lists the experts with whom she consulted to ensure correctness of details that draw us into the believability of the plot.
Even in times of darkness and as characters face their own shadows, the tender love in Lee's heart and in the characters' hearts ultimately prevails.
Lee read the following passage from "Those We Love Most" at her book signing:
"Although in her dream James couldn't speak, she knew that from the moment he had left himself in the hospital, floating briefly above his broken body, his job had been to stay close to them, a sentry watching over the ones he loved at the house, until the time was right. Maura understood that this new version of her son, ethereal and physically insubstantial, no longer fathomed what it was to be tired or heavy or bound by gravity. She could intuit, as a mother does, his growing anticipation for what would come next, a buoying sense that another warm place was waiting that would feel as good and secure to him as living with his family had felt.
In her dream, James was now entering their bedroom, although Pete was there next to her instead of lying in James's room as he was in real time. Swirling around his father's sleeping form, James dove down burrowing himself in his chest. She watched Pete's even breathing rise and fall, and then he stilled for a moment and rolled serenely onto his back. James moved now to Sarah's room and dipped down into her crib, tenderly caressing his sister's face, her curls blowing back form her sleep-damp forehead as her hand rose involuntarily and relaxed its fist. James appeared to be zooming faster now, with a greater sense of urgency, moving into Ryan's room, and Maura was inexplicably keeping pace, she was with him, observing it all form the inside out. She watched as he circled the room's perimeter once, past Ryan's books and games, the discarded clothes on the floor and moved to the bed to embrace him before retreating....
He continued up past stiff air currents and colliding weather patterns and up,up, up...and then all at once Maura's forward movement dissolved as a golden warmth infused her veins, a glow and there was a sudden sensation of uncoupling, like the second firing of a rocket ship in space. She observed James continuing above her as one watches a meteor, with a consuming sense of wonder....
And in Maura's dream, as her son broke through the byzantine darkness to join the universal light of a trillion twinkling stars, all that had once been James expanded and then burst into a million particles of explosive, refractive love." (excerpted from pages 177-179).
Head out to your neighborhood indie book store to pick up your copy of Lee Woodruff's first novel. Treat yourself to a fro yo while you're at it. Savor this wonderful novel which is a perfect beach or before bedtime read as the gentle summer breezes caress you as you enter the world of "Those We Love Most."
From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,
MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY AND FREE!