Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: Sing Them Home

While this was not a bad book ... the plot was interesting and engrossing, the characters were well-defined and the writing was, at times, beautifully lyrical ... it was just not as wholesome as I'd have liked. A Library Journal review snippet on the back cover asserts that the author shows her characters' "failings as they stumble, in a realistic and satisfying manner, toward better selves." I'm afraid I didn't see the characters necessarily become better. Plus, I was uncomfortable with the number of sexual exploits revealed in the book. I don't need that part of life in a book at all, unless it is absolutely necessary for the plot (which, in this case, I don't think it truly was, apart from establishing the relationship of the deceased with his mistress).

It was the description of the plot that enticed me into the story and, despite considering setting the book aside several time, kept me plowing through. Set in the state of Nebraska, Sing Them Home tells the tale of the Jones siblings who have been devastated already once by the disappearance of their mother during a particularly violent tornado in 1978. The story in the town is legend, but the children still have unresolved feelings about this event, even years later. Now, their father has suddenly died, in a storm, and they all begin to process this present grief along with the grief for their mother.

I enjoyed reading the fascinating cultural descriptions of the Welsh community in this small town of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska. The process of grief was also interesting to observe. However, I really couldn't appreciate the promiscuity and lack of morals in the characters. If I hadn't been connected enough to care about the resolution of what truly happened to their mother, I would not have continued reading.

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