Sunday, November 29, 2015

My take on: The Last September

Charlie Moss has been murdered. His mentally ill brother, Eli, is a suspect. Charlie has a calming presence and he could always find a solution for Eli's unpredictable behavior. Charlie was the protector, especially when it came to his brother. Was Eli finally tired of his brother? What was the final straw? It's a mystery. Charlie's wife, Brett, and his young daughter, Sarah, are left to pick up the pieces. 

Sounds like a murder mystery doesn't? But The Last September by Nina de Gramont is about about so much more. This book is about the years of friendship and love between Brett, Eli, and Charlie. It's about the love a brother has for a brother. It's about the love Brett and Charlie had for each other. Charlie's murder is just a small piece of a much larger emotional puzzle that Brett must solve. Before she can move on, Brett has to figure out how their lives got to this point?

The book starts out in the present day. Charlie, Brett, and Sarah are living in his father's cottage on Cape Cod. They are struggling financially. Their marriage appears to be shaky. They don't need Eli and his erratic behavior. But Eli is coming to the house. Brett draws a line in the sand and refuses to put their daughter or herself in harm's way. She spends the night with a friend, and returns alone to the house. What she discovers is shocking. Eli is confused and covered in blood. What has happened? A stunned Brett finds Charlie's bloodied body. There's only one conclusion right? Eli must have done it? It's not so simple, and that's when the book shifts back to the past.

The friendship between Eli, Brett, and Charlie began in college. Eli and Brett were friends before Charlie ever came into the picture. Brett was the person Eli could be vulnerable with. Boyfriends came and went, but Eli was always there. A short chance encounter with Charlie, and Brett knew she was in love. It wasn't quite the same for Charlie. A devastated Brett moves on and gets engaged to another man, Ladd. But Charlie was never far from Brett's heart and mind. The same could be said for Eli. His descent into madness changed his friendship with Brett. The closeness is gone, but deep down Brett has always cared for Eli.

Ladd loves his fiancee, but he knows that Charlie has a hold over Brett. He's been burned by Charlie before. Ladd is just waiting for it to happen again. Of course it happens again. Brett feels extremely guilty for breaking Ladd's heart, but she has to follow her own heart. She follows it to Charlie. What if she didn't? It's a question that haunts Brett. What if she had stayed with Ladd? Wouldn't Charlie still be alive? Did her past choices ultimately kill Charlie? She can't think like that.

Brett never would have experienced such a deep love or motherhood if she hadn't chosen Charlie. Her life, while hard, was better with him in it. Charlie wouldn't have felt like himself if he couldn't help his brother. As long as Charlie was in his life, Eli was comfortable in his own madness. My take from this book, everyone is responsible for their own choices, including Charlie and Eli. Everything happened for a reason.

Rating: Give it a try

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (Algonquin Books). The Last September is the fall selection for She Reads.

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