Audrey Niffenegger’s THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE is the story of chronologically displaced Henry DeTamble, who, without warning, finds himself dislocated in time, sometimes ending up in his past, other times in his future. It’s also the story of Clare, Henry’s long-suffering wife and soul mate. Written from Clare’s and Henry’s first person POVs, the story chronicles the effects of Henry’s time travel, his unpredictable and sometimes harrowing appearances and disappearances, on their relationship. Beautifully written and unique, the tale is above all else a love story, and that said, not really my preferred reading. While I enjoyed THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, I favor Niffenegger’s second book, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY, which is darker and quirkier.
Kathryn Stockett’s THE HELP, set in 1962 Mississippi, is about three women, two African-American maids and a young white socialite, who team up to write an anonymous tell-all book about “the help,” a decision that ends up putting them all at risk. I spent a lot of time avoiding THE HELP, but when it came in at the library after an eight month wait, I decided to give it a go. Much to my surprise, I loved its compelling characters and tight well-told story. On the downside, Stockett has taken a lot of heat for her use of dialect in the book. Was it racist? Did she have the right to speak for a black servant? That such questions always end up dividing us instead of initiating dialogue makes me unbearably sad.
Final book of the month is ROOM, by Emma Donoghue. ROOM is written from the POV of five-year old Jack. Jack was born into and has lived his entire life in a space he calls “Room,” an 11 x 11 shed where he and his mother are held captive. For Jack, Room is his world. But for Ma, Room is a prison. When she formulates a plan for their escape, neither she nor her son is prepared for the consequences. Despite the disturbing subject matter, Jack’s brilliantly clear voice, Ma’s love, courage and determination to create a life for her son within the four walls of Room, and the resilience of the child-parent bond all work to make ROOM an extraordinary novel. The story is haunting and original, the writing compassionate. Highly recommended.