Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book 37 (2011): Life Sentences

Sort of a drama/ mystery thing going here, with lots of character development... but I really wasn't a fan of Life Sentences by Laura Lippman. I really, really wanted to like this book because I heard great things about it and about author Lippman but I just didn't enjoy it. And I can't put my finger on exactly why.

Almost 50 year old writer Cassandra Fallows garnered quite a bit of success with her memoirs of growing up in Baltimore in the 1960s and a second book that dealt with her marriages and affairs and her lovers. She then dives into fiction, without much success.

She decides to explore her childhood friends and goes back to Baltimore to examine these friendships and a possible book idea- back into her successful fiction realm- when she learns of a childhood classmate's legal issues. Calliope Jenkins is accused of murdering her infant son. Jenkins spent seven years in prison refusing to answer any questions about the disappearance and possible death of her child. Fallows tries to reconnect with three of her former friends to compare memories of. She used this as research for her story but to also help her re-asses her own childhood memories and the true-ness of such.

This book weaves the complex stories of race (Cassandra is white and her friends, including Calliope, were black), relationships, love and allowed for lots of self examination.

I think I'm the only person who wasn't personally thrilled with this novel and again, I can't quite place my finger on why. Too real? Should be a memoir itself but it's really a work of fiction? Lack of likable characters? I'm not sure of why it garnered such displeasure from me, but it did. And because I feel like I'm trained to say something positive- well, I like her use of vocabulary. (352 pages)