Friday, October 19, 2012

My take on: Things Remembered

Karla Esterbrook is dreading the return to her childhood home. She's not going because she wants to, she's going because she has to. Her grandmother Anna is dying of congestive heart failure. Karla isn't going home to profess her love for her grandmother. She's going to help Anna get her will in order. There's no time to deal with feelings, this visit is purely for practical reasons. But this visit will be more than they bargained for.

Oh, I'm such a sucker for family dramas. I was instantly drawn to Things Remembered by Georgia Bockoven.

Following the death of their parents, Karla and her sisters, Heather and Grace, were raised by Anna. The girls bounce around from relative to relative before they get to Anna because Karla is so resistant to authority. As the oldest, she feels it's her job to protect her sisters. It's hard for Karla to give up control. She doesn't want her sisters to forget their parents. By the time they get to Anna, Karla is a bitter teenager. Nothing Anna does can please Karla. Nothing Anna says will get through to Karla. If she loved Karla's mother so much, why didn't Anna visit more? Why didn't Anna fight to have custody of the girls from the beginning? Heather and Grace grow to love Anna, and she is more like their mother than a grandmother. Deep down Anna knows that Karla loves her, but it's just so hard to crack that shell.

College offered the perfect opportunity for Karla to get out from under Anna's thumb. Her marriage fails, but Karla does becomes a successful businesswoman, owning and operating a coffee shop. Heather is a wife and the mother of two young boys, and is expecting a little girl. Grace has dreams of becoming a big-time actress, but instead spends her time bouncing from audition to audition and borrowing money from Karla and Anna to get by. Heather has her life on track, but will Grace ever grow up? Karla doesn't always know what she should do when it comes to Grace. Does she continue to help Grace? Or does she cut off the gravy train, and force Grace to grow up?

When it's time to get Anna's affairs in order, Karla immediately puts a wall up. Their initial interactions result in arguments. Karla's an adult, but the resentments from her childhood are still there. Anna is determined to get through to Karla. Anna wants Karla to know how much she loves her. They have to talk. They have to talk about the good and the bad, no matter how much it hurts. Anna can't truly rest in peace without clearing the air.

The visit with Anna isn't all gloom and day. Anna and Karla grow to understand each other. Karla even gets a chance at romance with Mark Taylor, a single father. But Karla tries her best to rebuff Mark. Karla doesn't always believe she is worthy of happiness. She has more practical matters, like Anna's health, to worry about. But even Anna wants Karla to make time for herself.

Karla spends so much time being tough, it's hard for her to show vulnerability. It hurts too much to deal with her problems with Anna. But Karla has to open up, otherwise she might not be able to move on. She might regret not having the chance to talk to Anna. It's scary to open herself up to Mark. What if he breaks her heart like her ex-husband? She's afraid of going through that again. This is a very relatable family story. It was an engaging read. The ending is very open-ended. You don't know what the future holds for these characters, but there is an overwhelming sense of hope.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of blog tour with TLC Book Tours

3 comments:

  1. I love that the book ends with a sense of hope - it is always good for me to "leave" characters knowing good things are in store for them. :)

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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  2. Although things wrapped up a little neater than I like, I still liked Things Remembered...and I think you're right...it's the feeling of hope in the end :)

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  3. In this case, the neat ending worked for me. I was expecting a more grim ending. I like that there was some hope for the characters at the end.

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