Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry

Coming Up for AirOn the coast of Alabama, there is a house cloaked in mystery, a place that reveals the truth and changes lives...

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband – between her reality and the woman she wants to be – she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life.

But everything changes after her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie’s world turns upside down when she sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at her mother’s funeral and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death. He wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face, until, in the painful midst of going through her mother’s things, she discovers a hidden diary – and a window onto stories buried long ago.

As Ellie and Hutch start speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Fighting their feelings, they set out together to dig into Lillian’s history. Using both the diary and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts… 

ARC received for review.

This one gets three stars.  It was a surprisingly fast read and really quite enjoyable.

One of things I didn't like were the main character's consistent use of "Mother" to refer to her mother instead of "Mom".  It just became super annoying and really rather Mommy Dearest feeling after a couple of chapters.  I know it was meant to convey the relationship between the characters, but it was just irritating.

That said, the book was overall an interesting read with a story that you genuinely wanted to follow until the end to see what happened.  The idea of the daughter finding the mother's journal and discovering various family secrets was intriguing and thought provoking.  The whole situation was handled skilfully and with a level of authentic compassion in the writing.  While I may not have particularly liked the main character as a person, this was worth reading for the emotional journey you took with her.

I certainly recommend this to those looking for a solid, intelligent read.  This was one of those books that really makes you think long after you've finished reading.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


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