Friday, June 4, 2010

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

 The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

I was drawn to this book for two reasons. The first is because I had previously read another book by this author and I wanted to see if I would like this one better. The second was the first sentence in the book…no, I will not give it away…go find it!

After reading that first sentence, I found myself completely absorbed by the book. I could not put it down. Flipping through the pages of this book was like reading pages from a journal that could very well have been my own. Though the words and experiences were different from those that lie within my own tortured past, the feelings this account roused from me were extracted from somewhere deep within my soul.

Reading this book, I was sent spiraling into a life of hurt, pain, torture, agony, and sacrifice. Almost Moon is Helen’s story of the life she knows, the agony of her memories, and the future she dreads, with the chapters jumping between and through each in turn.

The puzzle pieces of Helen’s life are scattered throughout the book and slowly the reader brings the jumbled mess into comprehension. As these jagged chunks of life begin to form what is now the essence of Helen, the reader comes to love her and understand some of the choices she has had to make. We witness the deterioration of her mother’s mind and body. We learn of the chaos concealed within her father’s tired mind which was sadly overshadowed by the needs of his wife. We ache with her as she uncovers family secrets that have been buried so deep and so long. We watch and cry as she gives up the one person who loved her and was there for her. And we sympathize with her fear for the pain that she may or may not inflict upon her own children. And Helen suffers through all of this misery for a woman who could have cared less about the devastation she was causing for her only daughter.

Now Helen finds herself in a situation that is turning from bad to worse. Unfortunately, she ends up getting her loved ones involved which does nothing to alleviate the situation. In the end, she finds she has no choices left, but one…

Though I will not divulge my reasoning’s here, I identified with Helen very much. As I read about her fears for her children and the relationship she had with her mother, I could not help but see myself in this character. Sadly, this book did not receive good reviews. I believe that in order to understand this book, you have to know Crazy. If you don’t know Crazy, you just cannot appreciate Crazy.

I still have not made my decision about Alice Sebold as a writer. The ending to this book was too hurried (almost as if she realized she had run out of pages and just stopped writing) and the last book I read had enormous potential but left me flat. I guess I have to read her first, autobiographical, book to make my final judgment.

Even though this book had a quick, seemingly unfinished ending, I must say it was well worth my time. I’m not even sure I can say it was good. It was…familiar…recognizable…at least to me.

I guess if you want an opinion of the book, you will have to read it and form your own.
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