Two years ago, O’Neal’s 2018 book The Art of Inheriting Secrets was one of the very first Featured New Release posts here. A year ago, her 2019 release When We Believed In Mermaids was also a Featured New Release. Today, we continue that emerging tradition with O’Neal’s newest release.
And I admit, at first I didn’t think I really had enough to say about this book to be able to give it this slot. But when I sat down to write the Goodreads et al review, it turned out I had more to say than I thought, so here we are.
This book doesn’t have Secrets‘ sense of discovery and wonder. It doesn’t convey the abject pain and heartbreak and waterworks of Mermaids either. What it does have, and what it shows remarkably well from many different angles, is the drama of how certain events can play out in the lives of family across multiple generations. Just to use the same example I used in the Goodreads review, in particular it shows how the second generation’s decision to begin living her life for herself – when her daughter, the third generation, was still a child – plays out not just with her daughter, but also her mother (first generation) and her daughter’s daughter (fourth generation). We see the complexities of the mother/ daughter relationship between 2 and 3, but we also see 1 and 4’s perspectives on it and how that decision impacted each of their lives. There are multiple other similar issues between various groupings of the four, and O’Neal does a remarkable job of balancing each voice.
A bit of action near the end feels a bit out of place, but wraps up the primary external plot thread in a way that manages to feed into the drama between the family members.
All in all an excellent display of O’Neal’s storytelling abilities, and one not to be missed. (Though you can largely leave the handkerchief at home for this one, fortunately.) Very much recommended.
As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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