The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown
My rating: 3/5
THE Low Down
Sadie is your typical New England stay-at-home mom – a nice house in her quiet hometown, successful and loving husband, young and adorable children. But when Ray moves back to town shortly after she suffers an emotionally crippling late-term miscarriage, “that summer” comes flooding back. From the childhood prank that may or may not have led to the unsolved disappearance of a neighborhood girl to her conflicting feelings for her mother, Ray and the relationship she suspected they once shared, the once long lost memories of her 12th summer reek havoc on her already weakened emotional state. As she struggles to deal with the reemergence of details in her past she may have rather left forgotten, she questions how those memories really have guided her present...and whether she likes where it is going.
“Morality and its victim, the mother - what a terrible picture! Is there indeed anything more terrible, more criminal, than our glorified sacred function of motherhood?”
MY Low Down
For some reason this particular review is drawing out a bit of writer's block in me – it's essentially a conundrum. On one hand, the knee jerk reaction to finishing this story was an easy 4 stars, but due to some life circumstances it has taken me over a week to get my review down. In that time, I was surprised by how quickly a seemingly 4 star read left my psyche – I honestly had to reference the book to remember a couple of characters names. Unfortunate.
Despite various story lines being driven in from many different directions, this story to me was essentially about motherhood – how our mothers affect who we are, and in turn how we mother our own children. As you move through the novel, the perspective alternates between 12 year old Sadie and 36 year old Sadie, highlighting the stark difference between the two but also the aspects of her young life that have followed her into her adult life.
At it's core, the insights did their job and drew you deep into many of the psychological aspects that even the smallest life events can have an impact on, but in many places they got mired down by the story line going in more directions that necessary. How did the disappearance of the first young girl factor into the lives of the girls several years later? Not really. Sure, the jacket tells you that it made the parents more diligent, but in reality the concept never came to fruitioon and the lack of resolution just made it frustrating and annoying. And why exactly was it necessary for Sadie to be suspicious of a past relationship between Ray and her mother? Not at all. He could have simply been girlhood crush of her past who returned to help turn things upside down and it would have had the same impact. None of the details such as Beth's strange behavior, Sadie's mother acting strangely (that seemed to be her norm, after all) ultimately seemed to me like they mattered to the overall theme of the story, but were basically just there to make everyone seem just one notch more screwed up.
Overall the writing was wonderful, particularly the alternation between the time periods that provided a great contrast to Sadie's life, but story itself just didn't do it for me quite as much as I'd originally felt like it would.
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