Friday, September 9, 2011

My take on: Call Me When You Land

In Call Me When You Land by Michael Schiavone Katie Olmstead doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of her parents. But try as she might, it isn't working. She is an alcoholic like her mother, and an absentee parent to her son, C.J., just like her parents were.

Katie uses alcohol to hide the pain and avoid reality. She can't even acknowledge that she is an alcoholic. As long as she can drive to work, hold a conversation, and make it home in one piece, then she isn't an alcoholic. The amount of alcohol she drinks on any given day would make the average person pass out, but for Katie it's normal. But if it's not a problem why does she feel the need to hide it from C.J.? He has turned into the average teenager. The type who would rather hide in his room, than talk to his mother. But they are forced to face their problems when C.J.'s estranged father Craig dies. He leaves C.J. a motorcycle in his will.

Why a motorcycle? It's not exactly a practical gift for a kid in high school. To Katie, the motorcycle represents freedom. A freedom she doesn't want C.J. to have. It's the type of freedom C.J. shouldn't have until he is an adult. If he learns to ride the Harley C.J. might never come back. In a way C.J. is already gone. He wants to focus on hockey and possibly get into a prep school. The bottled up feelings he has, C.J. takes out on the ice -- violently. With all that he is going through, why should Katie give him the tools to runaway? Katie can't keep the motorcycle from C.J. A lie she told C.J. years ago about his father could ruin their relationship even further, despite the lie being for his own good.

She tries to take his focus off the motorcycle by being more of a parent, fixing him breakfast and asking him about his "girlfriend." But C.J. can see right through her. Why would she try to be a parent now? What is different now? He knows she wants to go right back to the bottle.

Katie has lost her zeal for life. She just seems to be going through the motions. A career as an artist no longer seems possible, instead she tolls away working as a bartender. Art was her form of expression, but she has just replaced it with alcohol. At times, only her dying uncle Walter can get through to her. He's the mediator for her an C.J. She hardly let her ex-boyfriend Peter into that special part of her heart. He couldn't come in the house because it might upset C.J. The only time she truly lets Peter into her world is for sex. She just can't see how self-destructive she is. Even her absentee sister Caroline can see it. A sister who constantly says, "call me when you land." A phrase that Katie doesn't truly understand until the end. Until she acknowledges her problems, she might never come back to reality.

The characters feel very true to life. They are all deeply flawed. Will Katie continue to repeat the mistakes of her parents or will she finally break the cycle? Will C.J. learn to harness his anger or continue to have bouts of rage. This a broken family trying to find its way back together. There is no quick fix solution for their problems. Will they reunite or will drift further apart. Who would have thought a motorcycle could be the catalyst for all of this?

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the author's publicist (JKSCommunications) in exchange for an honest review.

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