Thursday, July 2, 2009
Review - Sunnyside Blues by Mary Carter
Sunnyside Blues by Mary Carter
Synopsis from publisher:
Andes Lane has spent nine years moving restlessly from place to place as she searches for somewhere that feels right. In the little blue houseboat bobbing on a Seattle lake, she thinks she's found it. But Andes has barely had a chance to settle in before her new life is upended by her landlord, Jay, and his ten-year-old son, Chase. Smart, secretive, and precocious, Chase touches a chord with Andes even as he plays on her last nerve. When Jay needs someone to take care of Chase temporarily, Andes agrees to accompany the boy to Sunnyside, Queens, on a quest she's sure will prove fruitless. But in this new, strange, unexpectedly welcoming city, Andes will confront the secrets she tried to leave behind and the lies that have kept her running. And against all odds, she'll discover a place, a man, and a newfound peace of mind that feel very much like home.
This was not one of those novels that reached out and grabbed me from page one. It was, quite honestly, a pretty slow starter. By about page 50, I was somewhat interested, but didn't really feel a connection to Andes, and by page 70, I was starting to think she was crazy, based on what she had let herself get talked into. But not too long after that, Carter starts to drop hints about Andes' strange, tragic past, and I found myself reeled in to the narrative.
By the time Carter reveals the actual truth about Andes' childhood - her real name is Emily, and she grew up in West Virginia, in a serpent-handling church - I was hooked. At about this time, Andes and Chase arrive in Sunnyside, and I feel like at this point the story really takes off. I found the supporting cast of characters much more interesting than when they were in Seattle, and the relationship between Andes and Chase started to deepen in a way that felt authentic.
For me, however, the most interesting parts of the novel were the ones that dealt with Andes' past, as Emily, in the church she grew up in. I would have loved for the author to develop these sections more, as I think they would have opened up Andes' character even more, and made her present-day actions and interactions more meaningful.
By the end of the novel, I was happy to have spent time getting to know this quirky set of characters, and without giving too much away, I really liked the ending Carter gave Andes. I don't think this novel will be for all readers - there is a fair amount of profanity, and I do think it requires a bit of patience - but I did ultimately enjoy it, and will look for more work by this author.
Source: Mary Carter - thank you!
Be sure to stop by tomorrow - Mary has prepared a special "author edition" of 451 Fridays!
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A Novel Menagerie
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