Saturday, November 26, 2011

ReView of IN LEAH'S WAKE by Terri Giuliano Long ; family, teenages, spiritually, community, life

Yes, I finally finished a book. And what a book this was, too.  I really enjoyed this one in all the time it took to do it.  I even met the author - my first author signing... it was pretty special.  This book is simple, yet sophisticated.  No doubt a really well written book with a strong story line.  Now it's time to leave this review and figure out what book is next :).....

Against all the interruptions that life comes with, you will NOT want to put this book down.  You will find yourself fighting to finish this novel.  First and foremost it is a book that is RELEVANT in today's society and culture. 
It is significant to the mystery of the teenage life of our youth, to the structure of the households of America, and to the spirituality of our being.  While this book is filled with human struggles that we all carry with us through life, whether young or older, it has optimism and hope that in the end brings people together to find strength and love within themselves and in each other.

   The book is depthful in many aspects.  It's a journey rather than just a story, or even a novel.  A journey that encompasses a trajectory that is not straight but rather a web that interconnects to form a grid on which the lives of these characters is written.  The parents have their own group of worries, obstacles, and even lifestyles that exist individually and together.  The father, a business man who often travels, the mother holds success seminars for the women in her community and is mostly at home taking care of their two teenage daughters.  When they come together their dynamic is a different set of variables that influences their daughters just as much as each other.  All of which leads to the relationship their daughters have with each of them.  Justine, the youngest often misses her father, and feels her mother isn't really attentive to her, which leads her to feel neglected.  Leah, feels just the opposite, usually feeling smothered by her father's pressures for her to be a great soccer player in order to make it to Harvard, and when her father isn't there her mother is keeping up the role for him, to the point where she rebels and finds an out with a troublesome drug-dealing boyfriend.  Then there is the relationship between Justine and Leah... and that relationship you have to read to know, it's the heart of the book.

   There are also minor characters that give the story another level of depth, that fill the space around the more immediate and fore-front picture.  Those are individuals around Leah's life: her soccer coach, her old soccer best friend, the troublesome new kids on the block.  These characters influence Leah, in subtle ways maybe, if not in even greater ways than we'd like to admit at times in the book.  When the lives of these characters come into contact with Leah's you are possibly left to ponder and think about how individuals outside the household may have an impact on the lives of the teenager in addition to those in the immediate family.  It leaves you to realize the picture of our lives goes much farther than home, possibly maybe hitting closer to home within us than our actual family.  And maybe also to realize that it's those exact individuals that allow us to be thankful for our families and come back to them with arms wide-open.

   The ending is a great way to realize the power of this book, if you are still not yet convinced.  Take a peak and you shall see!  It is, in fact, one book you can tell quite a detailed lot about the story.  You find a young girl in a pretty sticky situation who isn't allowing herself to reach out to her mother for money, but instead makes it clear to her boyfriend that they are on their own and so they should make it on their own.  You know immediately, this is a strong-headed individual teen.  The next thing you notice though, is that she's surrounded by the wrong crowd consisting of alcohol, drugs, partying, law-breaking, hiding.  How did it get to this point?  Where is her family?  Who are the individuals around her?  Is she just a troubled kid, lost?  A peak at her family informs you that she doesn't come from a horrible family, but in fact a pretty up-standing family who care and think about the condition of her life.  How did they affect her life?  What was the turning point in which Leah took matters into her own hands?  Was there one turning point or was it a series of events?  What were they?  What were the elements that lead to the series of events which in turn lead to the end result?  What is it about teenagers that makes them individualistically egocentric and yet so vulnerable and mindlessly empowered? Above and beyond the mere pleasure of reading a novel such as this is the opportunity of having a platform off of which to discuss these powerful questions.


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