When I was preparing to read this book, I had not idea that it was going to be such a emotional and human story, filled with longing and regret, but also hope. I had been under the mistaken belief that this book was going to be somewhat more impersonal and more focused on specific groups of people, rather than individuals and the emotional loads they carried. It was beautiful and heartrending, and in a way, reading this book opened my eyes to the ways in which people wound each other, both intentionally and accidentally. I found myself caught up in the heartaches and struggles of the people that filled these pages, and Leegant’s prose had a way of reaching deep down into my soul and resonating in hollows I didn’t know I had.
This trifecta of stories intertwines around each other like a particularly inclement vine. As each protagonist deals with their very different circumstances, there are similar themes of alienation, absolution and restiveness that permeate them all and gently pepper the narrative with touches of naked vulnerability and heartbreak. Leegant has a perfect handle on her characters and story, never letting the pertinent points fade, but keeping them at the surface, where the reader can see not only the wounds but the scars of past experience as well. It's a heady balance of past and present that makes this book such a successful and emotional read. As I read, I was steadily grieving for the characters who had lost so much, yet remaining open to the possibilities of redemption that seemed to creep from the page.
I also think that Leegant mixes her characters well. There were some who were repugnant and some who were extremely sympathetic, but in this book, no one is totally flat and one dimensional. In what I think is a stroke of genius, Leegant makes her more difficult characters swell within their confines and become not villains, but horribly damaged people. It’s hard to hate the boy who's not loved, or to scorn the man who doesn’t know how to accept his family. Leegant gives us the whole picture and reflects through her plot permutations why they may have ended up like this and how they might still grow. She makes us see that it’s never black and white, although the darkest shade of gray may manifest itself as such, and places her characters in situations where it's impossible for them not to react and grow.
Though some aspects of this book left me with a heavy heart, there was indeed a lot of hope within the conclusion of the story, and for most of the characters, there was reason to be joyful. It must have been a sticky wicket to write about such controversial issues without being inflammatory and accusatory, but Leegant manages that and more. If you haven’t gotten the chance to read this book yet, I would recommend it to you. Its humility and energy were dark but very elastic and impressive. This is a story that I won’t soon forget and was glad to have read.
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.