Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur, as reviewed by Atlas

I read this on a day when I was already feeling depressed, and I definitely do not recommend that. Reading sad books while depressed, that is - the book itself I do recommend!

Don't worry, when I say the book is sad, I am not giving away anything you won't find out from the jacket cover or the first couple chapters. Aubrey (NOT Audrey!) is 11 years old, coping with the accident that killed her father and younger sister, and a mother who grows more and more withdrawn until one day she just disappears completely. Aubrey copes on her own for about a week, until concerned Grandma shows up at the door and quickly discovers Mom's absence.

While we get some good-sized glimpses into how Aubrey's mother and grandmother are working through their grief, most of the focus is on Aubrey. Some wise adults and a new friend help her work through her feelings about both the deaths of her father and sister, and her mother's abandonment. Sometimes the adults are a little too perfect in knowing just what to say, but that may be just the ticket for a child dealing with the same issues. For some reason I had a hard time reading the letters Aubrey wrote to various people - they seemed somehow overly sentimental. Logically, they worked with the story, and of course they would be sentimental, so I'm not sure why I didn't like them - maybe it was my mood!

While sentimental doesn't appeal to me, we all have those readers who actually come to us looking for sad stories, and this is just the ticket. There is a satisfyingly realistic, if somewhat surprising ending. For those readers either dealing with grief themselves, or wanting to understand someone who is, LaFleur does an excellent job of showing the ups and downs up the process, and the ways seemingly innocuous events can trigger strong emotions. A good start for a new author, and I look forward to seeing what she comes out with next.

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