Friday, April 9, 2010

The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty

Okay, if you want to get picky, I didn't read read this book.  I've been listening to the audio book in my car.  I bought it to get me through the long drive from Florida to Wisconsin without going completely insane.  Anyway, I finished it yesterday and thought I'd add it to my diary. 

"The Rest of Her Life" is about a recent high school graduate, Kara, who accidentally kills a pedestrian with her SUV.  The story is told from the point of view of her mother, Leigh, and utilizes many flashbacks to create an irregular chronology.  The novel follows the fallout from the accident and the change in family dynamics over the course of a hot Kansas summer. 

While this book is about the remorse and grief following a horrendous accident, it has as much, if not more, to say about the relationships within a family.  Like many mothers, Leigh has trouble relating to and communicating with her teenage daughter.  Conversely, Her husband,Gary, has the same problem with their son, Justin.  While it could be argued that the conflicts in the family are stereotypical, I think they really work in this novel.  Moriarty manages to refrain from villifying anyone or making them seem unsympathetic.  These characters were so real, I felt like I was spying on the family next door. 

The accident which frames the story involves a distracted teenage driver on her cell phone.  As a former insurance agent, I've seen tragedies like this happen over and over again.  All it takes is a lack of driving focus for a split second for someone to get hurt.  While this situation may have been done before in books or film, the realism of watching each character float through the grieving process is interesting.  The teenage girl killed in the accident is a former student of Leigh's, which adds another layer to her confused emotions. 

This is a character driven novel.  If you are looking for wild car chases, mystery or dramatic plot twists, you will not find it here.  However, the writing is beautiful and Moriarty manages to weave the character's struggles together in a fresh, interesting way, without creating un-necessary melodrama. 

Overall, I give The Rest of her Life...

Literary Merit - 3 1/2 bookmarks

Character Development - 4 1/2 bookmarks

Plot - 2 bookmarks

Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Francis MacDormond (Leigh), Dakota Fanning (Kara), Jae Head (Justin)

Likeliness that I'll read it again - None.  No offense to this book or anything, but there are very few books that I feel compelled to re-read.  I would recommend this for a nice summer read.

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