Monday, August 10, 2015

Two great books read at the beach

I just returned today from a week at the beach with my family.  Lots of time for fun, sun, eating and reading!  And I loved the two books that I read!

I took Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) with me to read. This book was written before Gone Girl, but it was certainly as good of a story!

The main character, Libby, lost her mother and two sisters in a brutal murder one evening years ago when Libby was seven years old.  Her fifteen year old brother, Ben, was charged and imprisoned for life for the murders. Her father was an irresponsible, often missing from their lives, family member who neither Libby nor Ben had contact with.  Nor had Libby had contact with Ben all the years he was in prison.  She grew up with various family members who would take her in for periods of time.

Jump forward twenty-four years.  A Kill Club, who studied true crimes, wanted to pay Libby to talk to various people who may have been involved in the murders.  Libby was desperate for money so she agreed to talk to who they wanted. Surprisingly to her, the members of the club did not think that Ben was the killer.

The best part of the book for me was that Libby began questioning her own testimony that had put Ben in prison all those years ago and she began to be interested in learning the truth.  I thought that the actual ending of the story was a bit weak, but that didn't take away my enjoyment of the book.  I found myself contemplating it for several days after I finished reading it!

When I finished reading Dark Places, my daughter had just finished reading Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman and asked if I wanted to read it. I am a big fan of Hoffman's writing so that was an easy choice for me!  This novel was written in 2007 and apparently slipped by me, because I had never heard of it.  It is a three generational novel, which I always enjoy.

Skylight Confessions is the story of seventeen year old, orphaned Arlyn, who on the day of her
father's funeral invited a young college student into her home when he came by looking for directions.  John Moody ended up staying with Arlyn in her home for three days, before returning to school. Shortly thereafter, Arlyn showed up at John's school and inserted herself into his life.  They ended up marrying and spent a lifetime resenting each other.   John and Arlyn had a son, Sam, whose troubled adolescence is the tipping point of the story. 

Meredith was a college student who had gone to see a psychic and when she was leaving she saw a man and a woman, who turned out to be Arlyn's ghost following John.  Meredith became fascinated with what she saw and went to John's home where Sam was having an acting out incident and when Meredith appropriately and helpfully handled it, she was offered a job at the home as the children's nanny.

 Interplaying throughout the story is Arlyn's early death, her love affair and child born to another man, and Meredith.

As Hoffman's books do, there is an other-worldly mystical aspect to the story as only John and Meredith are aware of Arlyn's presence.  The story is one of love and grief and despair and it all ties together nicely.  I really liked this book!

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