Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SEEING THINGS, by Patti Hill

In Seeing Things, Patti Hill has crafted a memorable novel about multi-generational family issues. The plot centers around seventy-something Birdie Wainwright, an independent woman whose active life is curtailed by the onset of macular degeneration.

When she breaks an ankle due to her faulty vision, Birdie is forced to stay with her son and his ever-so-uptight wife. The bright side to her situation is her grandson, Fletcher, who rapidly becomes her ally in a cold and sterile household.

The back cover description made the story sound like a humorous romp, but I found it to be anything but. The family situations portrayed struck me as painfully real. My heart ached for poor Fletcher, and for Birdie, as she tries to bring love into a family at odds with one another.

On that level, Seeing Things is a compelling story. However, when Hill brought Birdie's hallucinations of Huckleberry Finn into the mix, I had a little trouble relating. I found myself skipping over the Huck portions to read the "real" story. Having said that, though, I’d still recommend Seeing Things. It contains one of the best family dramas I've read in a long time.

I'd love to hear from other readers as to their opinions about the "Huck parts." –Maybe it’s just me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

HUNTER'S MOON, by Don Hoesel

Hunter's Moon is a near-perfect story of a family hiding a dark past. Hoesel's hero, CJ Baxter, is a bestselling novelist, so as an author I especially enjoyed reading this book. CJ's ups and downs with his agent, critics, and sales numbers added an extra dimension to an already enjoyable plot.
The story opens with CJ leaving his home in Tennessee to travel to New York state to visit his dying grandfather. He leaves behind a fractured marriage and a lawsuit brought against him by a critic he assaulted. Once he reaches the family mansion overlooking his hometown, his return after seventeen years is met with barely veiled hostility.
CJ knows something that his brother, Graham, and their father have kept hidden since CJ was a boy. Graham is running for the Senate and isn't eager to have the family black sheep dig into family secrets. As the plot unfolds, we see how far the Baxter clan will go to hide those secrets.
In Hunter's Moon, Hoesel has given us a look at a believable protagonist—a man with flaws, doubts, and the courage to face his past. I look forward to reading more from this author.