Monday, January 18, 2016

BLACK-EYED SUSANS by Julia Heaberlin

I found it!  Ever since I wrote my post titled HOW I CHOOSE in August of 2015, I've been searching for something to read that I can enjoy and respect.  I downloaded a lot of lending library books, and got so fed up with feeling like my eyeballs were rotting, that I took a different approach.  I downloaded samples of books I must actually buy.  One sample intrigued me so much that I asked my son to give me a copy for Christmas.  He came through and delivered a beautiful hardback of BLACK-EYED SUSANS by Julia Heaberlin.

On a side note, he had to order the book online because he could not find it in any bookstores.  He found another one of Heaberlin's books, which he reported "looks like a good read too".  I'm hoping that he couldn't find BLACK-EYED SUSANS in a bookstore simply because it was sold out, because if it wasn't, it should have been.

I read the whole novel in a short period of time without shelving it to return to later.  If I didn't have so many responsibilities that trump pleasurable pursuits and if I didn't have to sleep, I probably could have read this book in one sitting instead of over a period of a couple of weeks.

While reading, I continually felt little explosions of happiness popping in my head.  It wasn't that the story itself was happy, but that I was giddy to find an author who can write well and who has other books I can read.  Each sentence was jam-packed with subtle, but important messages -- even the descriptions.  I don't think I found a single word that was a waste of my time, or evidence of the writer getting in the way of the story.

In fact, I was in awe, wishing I had thought of this or that when I wrote my own suspense novels.  I learned so much about writing while reading this book.  Everything -- and I mean everything -- from the cover right down to the acknowledgments, was finely crafted and even mesmerizing.

I loved that the entire story revolved around a specific "event", but that event was left up to the imagination of the reader.  I, personally, didn't want to know the details of that event, and feel that it was a much better story without them.  I found the relationship between two childhood friends to be fresh and engaging, and the story got me thinking about old friends I thought I would have for life, but for whatever reason disappeared off the face of the earth.

The chapters were short, always leaving the reader's mind hanging by a branch on the edge of a cliff.  I was unable to predict the ending, because I fell into the trap of picking up on Heaberlin's subtle clues that led me down the wrong path.  I did feel that some points were left unresolved, but I attribute that to me being unable to concentrate on reading with my daily distractions and interruptions.  A lot of information was packed into tiny sentences, and I could have easily missed a resolution.  For that reason, I'm planning on reading the book again after enough time has passed for me to forget some of it and for me look at the plot with fresh eyes.  However, even if I did catch everything, I still would want to read the book again.  It was that good.

But first, I will be reading Heaberlin's other novels.  From me, that is saying a lot.