Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Book Review: On the Edge of Gone

As I read the tagline to On the Edge of Gone, I knew it would be a suitable comparison title for my recent novel. It reads: "When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?" The similarities are striking.

Denise, her mother, and her trans-gender sister Iris, have all been assigned to a temporary shelter to wait out the impact of an anticipated comet collision. This will provide meager comfort and security, at best. Their wildest dream is to be allowed to board one of the generation ships, bound for another planet to save mankind. But, there's a hitch. Everyone on board the ship must prove their usefulness. Denise is autistic. Her mother is a drug addict. Her sister's primary skill is planning and executing festivals, not much use on a ship looking for engineers and scientists.

The day the comet is due, Denise can't find her sister and her mother seems strung out and unwilling to move. Their luck picks up when they assist two women headed for one of the generation ships. Denise and her mother are offered temporary shelter in exchange for their assistance in transporting the women. Now, Denise must struggle to find her sister and secure permanent spots for them on the ship's manifest.

I am most impressed by the author's skillful rendering of the narrator. When your main character faces intense challenges, it can be quite difficult to sway the reader's affection. While I never came to love Denise, I certainly sympathized with her in her dilemmas. She has a tenacity that carries her through, despite her constant need to self-stimulate (frequent tapping on her legs) and disengage. It must have been quite tricky for the author to convey the challenges along with the strengths.

In the end, the reader is left thinking long and hard about the intrinsic value of each and every individual on the planet, whether they are autistic, addicted, or unproductive. The end doesn't wrap up with a rosy, neatly packaged resolution. It is realistic and yet hopeful.

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