Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: The Unfinished Life of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publishing Date: June 5th 2012
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Pages: 309 pgs
ISBN: 9780307887801
Source: borrowed from my public library

Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
Before there were blogs, there were journals. And in them we’d write as we really were, not as we wanted to appear. But there comes a day when journals outlive us. And with them, our secrets.

   Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth's journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
   The complicated portrait of Elizabeth—her troubled upbringing, and her route to marriage and motherhood—makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a period of uncertainty in her own marriage.
   The more Kate reads, the more she learns the complicated truth of who Elizabeth really was, and rethinks her own choices as a wife, mother, and professional, and the legacy she herself would want to leave behind. When an unfamiliar man’s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn’t know about her friend, including where she was really going on the day she died.
   Set in the anxious summer after the September 11th attacks, this story of two women—their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears—considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal, and the repercussions of our choices.

My Review: 
I had high hopes for this one because the summary just sounds so amazing.  I have to admit though that while I had high hopes for this book, the book fell a little flat for me.  For some reason I just didn't feel a connection with either of the main characters in the book.  It could be because one of the main characters is dead and we are only learning about her through her journal entries. I could see why I wouldn't connect to Elizabeth for this reason but I thought for sure then I would be able to connect with Kate, who is reading these journal entries.  Well, I couldn't connect with her either.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that she seemed so whishy washy about most things in her life.  She can't decide whether or not to take a job opportunity presented to her, she can't decide how she feels about what she is reading in the journals and then she can't decide what to do about what she is reading in the journals.   In the end she finally makes a few decisions and I suppose this redeems her a bit but I just couldn't get into the plot line for this reason.  

I did read the book quickly in one day and I did enjoy certain aspects of the novel.  I did enjoy the fact that the novel kept going back and forth between the journals and present day.  I think it's important not to solely have journal entries as a method of developing plot.  I also liked the way in which Bernier writes and makes us question our mortality a little.  It really helps put into perspective what is important in life and what isn't.  

While I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to, that's not to say that others won't simply love this book.  It is blurbed by many well-known authors and it does have this sense of nostalgia and living life to the fullest.  Overall I give this book 2.5 stars out of 5. 

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