Sunday, April 10, 2011

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst


    From the bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel comes a dazzling literary mystery about the lengths to which some people will go to rewrite their past. 

    Bestselling novelist Octavia Frost has just completed her latest book—a revolutionary novel in which she has rewritten the last chapters of all her previous books, removing clues about her personal life concealed within, especially a horrific tragedy that befell her family years ago. 

    On her way to deliver the manuscript to her editor, Octavia reads a news crawl in Times Square and learns that her rock-star son, Milo, has been arrested for murder. Though she and Milo haven’t spoken in years—an estrangement stemming from that tragic day—she drops everything to go to him. 

    The “last chapters” of Octavia’s novel are layered throughout The Nobodies  Album—the scattered puzzle pieces to her and Milo’s dark and troubled past. Did she drive her son to murder? Did Milo murder anyone at all? And what exactly happened all those years ago? As the novel builds to a stunning reveal, Octavia must consider how this story will come to a close. 

    Universally praised for her candid explorations of the human psyche, Parkhurst delivers an emotionally gripping and resonant mystery about a mother and her son, and about the possibility that one can never truly know another person.

    About the Author

    Carolyn Parkhurst is a writer with a true talent for using the strangest of premises to tell tales that are genuinely insightful and moving. Her debut novel The Dogs of Babel, the story of a grieving widower who attempts to teach his dog to speak, won her wide acclaim. Now with a smart and funny follow-up that takes on reality television, Parkhurst is proving that she is anything but a one-hit-wonder.

    My Thoughts:
    There are some stories no one wants to hear. Some stories, once told, won't let you go so easily.
    Octavia Frost is a successful author, but there are times when she feels like a failure as a mother. Having lost her husband and daughter at a relatively young age, she was left to raise her young son alone. The son that she must admit she was never really very compatible with. And by all external appearances, she was a good mother. She cared well for her son, gave him every external thing he needed. But there has always been a chasm between them. Despite this, they have both succeeded. She is a successful author, he is a popular musician.

    Then comes the day when she learns that her son Milo has been arrested for the murder of his fiance. She rushes to his side, unsure of how to best help him, and together the two of them begin navigating the distance between them.

    This book started out a little slow for me, but eventually it picked up and pulled me in. The relationship between Octavia and Milo is very real and believable. Her love for him is apparent, and her desire to try to "make it all better" is genuine. But Milo harbors pain from the past, and hasn't yet found a way beyond it.

    I love when I learn new things from a book. This time I learned about the Wave Organ in San Francisco. Here is a video that I found about it.

    In beautifully expressing a woman’s grief:
    “I performed a sort of internal bowing. I honor you. I’m thinking of nothing else. I bear witness that Mitchell and Rosemary lived on this earth. I bear witness that they were loved. I bear witness that they are not gone from my body, from my life. Make haste to remember them.” (p. 270)
    Vocabulary/Things Learned:
    A word that I am loosely familiar with, but have never added to my own vocabulary...

    Unctuous- Characterized by affected, exaggerated, or insincere earnestness
    Usage: He’s in his mid-fifties, sleek and well groomed, charismatic but not unctuous. (p. 33)

    The Cover: I like the cover, which shows a young boy standing in water with a lifesaver. Milo is basically a lost little boy just waiting for his mother to save him.

    Five words to describe this book: forlorn, hopeful, despair, frustration, kindness

    My final word: The actual story is interspersed with the endings of many fictional stories, and then alternate endings for those stories. This is probably what dragged the story down. While I enjoyed a couple of the stories, most were pretty boring.

    All in all, this was a pretty good story. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride-- up, down, enjoyable, not so enjoyable. Overall it was pretty enjoyable, with the last third being the best of the book.

    My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

    GIVEAWAY: Win The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. I have both a new hardcover and  gently read hardcover copies available. There will be two winners.

    Rules (you knew there had to be some):
    • You must be 18 years or older
    • Open to US and Canada residents only
    • To enter, just comment below. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, or have it visible in your profile. Please note in your comment whether you wish to enter for the new copy only, or if you would also like to be considered for the gently read copy.
    • For extra entries, follow my blog, follow me via Facebook or Networked Blogs, and/or blog about this contest. One extra entry for each. Sidebars are okay.
    • Leave a separate comment for each entry.
    • That's a total of 4 possible entries!
    • Those who don't follow the rules risk being disqualified.
    Deadline is April 30, 2011.

    Please note that these books are being shipped by me, and will be shipped without insurance or tracking. Therefore I am at the mercy of the post office. So far no book that I've shipped has been lost by them, but I can make no guarantees!

    Good Luck! Ready, Set, Go!

    Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

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