Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When Madeline Was Young review

When Madeline was Young by Jane Hamilton was my first Nook book. It had nothing to do with the Nook but I didn't care for the book. It was one of those that had HUGE potential to be amazing, but it fell short. I wanted to like it- obviously if I was willing to actually pay good money at full price for a book- I really wanted to like it.

The concept: Madeline is beautiful and she married the quiet, nerdy academic Aaron and them tragedy strikes during their first year of marriage. Madeline is in an accident and she is left with the mental abilities of a 5 or 6 year old. Instead of divorcing her, Aaron arranges for her care and then Aaron falls in love with the nurse. He divorces Madeline and marries the nurse and he and his second wife then care for Madeline like one of their own children. awesome idea, right?

Well, in my review reading I don't know where I missed the part that the story is historical fiction. It takes place in the 1950s and then into the 1960s. This is significant only in the medical technology that is not available to Madeline at the time of the accident as well as people's response to such a famile makeup. Also, politics of the era are a huge part of one of the many subplots intersecting this story.

Also, I must have glossed over the fact that the story isn't told by Aaron nor his second wife or even the childlike Madeline, but by Arron and his second wife's son, Mac. And the focus isn't really even on Madeline. Oh yeah, she's an integral part of the story obviously, but from the synopsis and reviews I read, I thought, for some reason, it would be Madeline's story and it was really Mac's story, his reflection on his life and how his strange family shaped who he became as an adult: a nice guy, a nice dad, a nice doctor, a nice son, a nice nephew, just a plain old... nice guy.

The story jumps around all over the place from Mac's early childhood, to his present day life, to his early adult years, telling his story, Madeline's story, his mother's story, his aunt's story, his sister's story... It bops around and is often hard to follow because we have a flashback within a flashback.

I love my Nook but this is a book that had I had a paper book with pages, I would've flipped back and forth to refresh my memory of the characters and who was doing what with whom because of the jumping around story telling style.

I expected something completely differently obviously. Instead I got a sort of coming of age story rather than a tale of a woman child's survival. I've read better and much worse but I'm not really sure I would recommend this to anyone else. I would recommend a Nook, though!