The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've resisted the desire to read this novel since it was published ... primarily because I had such a horrible, ugly reaction to her novel The Dogs of Babel. A throw the book across the room, refuse to continue reading kind of reaction. So, as you can imagine, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to read this one. However, I heard Ann from Books on the Nightstand say that she'd read it and that it was really good. Since I trust Ann's taste in all things bookish, I decided to go ahead and give it a read. And I'm so glad that I did.
This novel is, far and away, much better than the other Parkhurst novels that I've read. I thought that Parkhurst's device of using one of the characters changing the endings of her published novels as a way to support the narrative was really quite inventive. I thought the character development was good - it's critical to the story so having that not work would have made the whole thing not work. I thought that there was a complexity to the characters that made the plot & themes work. The unfolding of the characters relationships to one another was done expertly and really added to the movement of the book.
I did figure out the mystery/twist pretty early on which was disappointing ... I kept hoping that Parkhurst was going to surprise me with the ending. It really didn't. However, the journey to the ending was interesting enough that I can forgive that.
I enjoyed exploring the themes of the book quite a bit - grief, redemption, parental love, etc. That is what really made this book shine for me ... how it explored some uncomfortable concepts and themes without being depressing or negative.
All in all, I really enjoyed this novel - much to my own surprise! I highly recommend this one if you're interested in giving Parkhurst a read ... in my opinion, this is a considerably better book than The Dogs of Babel.
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