Thursday, July 15, 2010

NOBODIES ALBUM by Carolyn Parkhurst

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Carolyn Parkhurst always manages to come up with truly creative and original ideas for her novels. Best known for her book DOGS OF BABEL, Parkhurst returns with the NOBODIES ALBUM.  Many will view this book as a mystery but it is not. It is a story of relationships, specifically those between mothers and sons.  Successful novelist Octavia Frost is on her way to her publisher to drop off her latest novel when she hears the news that her estranged rock star son, Milo, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Octavia's husband and young daughter both died when Milo was 9.  This tragic event altered the course of their relationship and in his mid-twenties, Milo refuses to have any more contact with his mother. Octavia heads to California to be by her son's side while not knowing whether he will even speak to her. Octavia tries to figure out what really happened between her son and his girlfriend while attempting some sort of reconciliation. Her great attempt at getting her son back lies in her latest novel called THE NOBODIES ALBUM which is really a collection of rewritten endings for all of her previous books. The original and rewritten endings are interspersed throughout the book. The complexity of the relationship of mother and son and the effects of tragedy and grief on individuals form the center of the story.

Other reviewers have mentioned two main flaws in this book: it isn't a very good mystery and the inclusion of the rewritten endings from THE NOBODIES ALBUMS which many readers find distracting and pointless. I don't agree with either criticism. This isn't a mystery book so it wasn't important to me how effective the "mystery" was.  I think the inclusion of the rewritten endings was KEY to the story. I think many of us would love the opportunity to rewrite portions of our lives and the impulse must be doubly enticing for a writer. The rewritten chapters reveal a great deal about Octavia and how she dealt with her grief after the death of her husband and daughter. The rewrites reveal her attempt at changing history and healing her troubled relationship with her son. To me, they added a great deal to the story. Especially when you think about how much of themselves authors put into their work.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. An intriguing and moving story about the troubled relationships we sometimes have with those who are close to us and the profound effects that grief and loss can have on people. One of my favorites this year!

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Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Looking forward to Nobodies Album; glad u loved it Amy.