February 6, 2011

What You Have Left by Will Allison

Date Started: February 4, 2011
Date Finished: February 5, 2011

Summary:  When Holly was young, her mother died in a boating accident and her father dropped her off with her grandfather, Cal. Years later, Cal is suffering from Alzheimer's and is preparing the old farm for Holly to inherit. When Holly realizes that she has no one left, she goes to track down her father.

Likes: This is a novel I didn't think I would enjoy, but it was more about a family and their healing process instead of a "quest" type of novel for Holly to find her father. All of the characters were tragically and beautifully flawed and all were likable and humanized. We aren't told one way or the other to feel sympathy or disdain for one character over the other, they are just presented and the reader is left to make our own judgments, if necessary. I found that I didn't condemn Wylie for leaving his daughter and I love the way the author presented the characters and their stories. The narration isn't consistent, starting with first person and going from first to third to first in whatever order is deemed necessary to tell the story.

Dislikes: There wasn't much I disliked. The POV changes were a little jarring at first and they stopped at parts where I felt could have been a scene (but I definitely appreciate why they weren't included, it's a technique we have to learn at school about showing the small scenes, the quiet moments). eeee

Overall: I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I meant to read just a little bit, but I found myself having trouble pulling myself away from it. I was invested in these characters and they were so unique and dynamic that I couldn't figure out what it was about them that made them so three dimensional. I suppose it was the quiet moments that we saw that added up to the larger picture. I think that's where a lot of novels fail and this novel didn't. A lot of things show the big moments and things tend to get cliched when that happens, but this novel shows the quite seemingly mundane moments that make for poignant and thoughtful moments. I really enjoyed this novel, not just the story, but the storytelling technique through time skips and POV shifts was beautiful and really worked for the story.

Recommended by: My thesis advisor recommended it. Not for any particular reason other than she thought I would enjoy it and I did immensely.

Acquired: Borrowed from my thesis advisor

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Cozy in Texas said...

Great review.

Anonymous said...

I like it how you recognise what the writer does because of your school work.

I've read a few books on How to Write and also start to notice things in books. Isn't it fun?

Najela said...

@Ann: Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

@Leeswammes: Yes, I guess that's why the teacher had me read it. I know what you mean. I like that people actually use the techniques they talk about, it means that they know what they're talking about.lol.

Beth said...

Great review Najela. It's not the kind of book I would usually read but still sounds interesting.

Najela said...

@Beth: I didn't think I would like it, but I was pleasantly surprised.


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