This is a hard book to describe in a synopsis. The main character is Katie. It’s the summer before her senior year, and she’s struggling with grief after the loss of her mother. She works as a gardening assistant for a reclusive woman who hasn’t been seen in 50 years. In unravelling the mystery of the recluse’s life, Katie tries to come to terms with her mother’s death.
I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book like this before. It was a bit of a mystery, but a slow, quiet mystery. The book has an extremely slow and passive plot, which I appreciated because if it had been rushed, it would have felt very juvenile. As it was, it came off much like the pacing in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, except without the ominous undertone. A lot of the book is thinking and remembering stories, the way Never Let Me Go is. That’s what I mean by quiet. If you’re looking for a plot-based book, this isn’t it.
I’m finding it very difficult to put my feelings about the book into words. I’m a little conflicted about it. I liked the way it was set up, but for some reason didn’t feel the characters as strongly as I would have liked (though I fully admit that could be because I was a little sleep-deprived when I read it). There were some technical issues with verb tenses which I’m sure is just my editorial personality coming through, but mostly, it was very well written. I liked it, but I’m not sure how long it’ll stick with me. Maybe it’ll grow and magnify in my mind the way Never Let Me Go has, but maybe it’ll fade like The Cellist of Sarajevo (another quiet book). I won’t know for quite awhile. At the same time, I think my main issue with the book was I didn’t feel it was unique enough to capture my undivided attention. This is, of course, in complete contrast to the statement above that says I’ve never read a book like it. Maybe what I mean is there wasn’t any spark moment for me to catch onto. It was almost too stripped of life, almost too passive. But I don’t know. It’s one of those books that might possibly have rooted itself very deep in my brain in order to bloom fully as time passes. I won’t know for awhile.
I’m sorry. This is a really awful review. Sometimes I just come across books that are difficult for me to really sort through. This is one of them. I can see some people loving this book, and others getting bored. I think I’ll just have to let time determine how this will affect me longterm.