Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Julie's Review: The Lost Hours

Summary: When Piper Mills was twelve, she helped her grandfather bury a box that belonged to her grandmother in the backyard. For twelve years, it remained untouched. Now a near fatal riding accident has shattered Piper’s dreams of Olympic glory. After her grandfather’s death, she inherits the house and all its secrets, including a key to a room that doesn’t exist—or does it? And after her grandmother is sent away to a nursing home, she remembers the box buried in the backyard. In it are torn pages from a scrapbook, a charm necklace—and a newspaper article from 1939 about the body of an infant found floating in the Savannah River. The necklace’s charms tell the story of three friends during the 1930s— each charm added during the three months each friend had the necklace and recorded her life in the scrapbook. Piper always dismissed her grandmother as not having had a story to tell. And now, too late, Piper finds she might have been wrong.

Review: The Lost Hours is an intense, taut, heartbreaking novel that touches on subject matters that are uncomfortable.  The past is a tricky thing. It pulls us in with the need to know what happened and by the time you figure out that maybe things are left better hidden, you are too deep. This is what happens to Piper. She wants to know what made her grandmother the quiet, sad person she was during her lifetime. Was she always like this or was there a significant event in her life that altered who she was?

A letter written by her grandmother, Annabelle, to a Lillian sets Piper on the quest for unearthing the past of her grandmother. They mystery surrounding these two women is slowly revealed through the pages of a journal, newspaper clippings and through the eyes of Lillian. We experience the story from Piper, Lillian and Helen's point of views.

All of these women have had to endure disappointments and tragedies, this is what bonds them in the end. It is their resilience in life that makes them strong. They all make extremely interesting narrators. You get to know them from the others perspectives and their own inner thoughts. It brings a depth to the novel that wouldn't have been achieved through a single narrator.

I read this book so fast because I wanted to find out what happened. Just as I thought the mystery was resolved and could read the rest of the book in peace, Ms. White threw another curve ball at me. It literally took my breath away. It also caused me to sob during the last 20 pages.

It's taken me all day to write this review because it's not an easy novel to review. I'm also trying my damnedest not to judge Lillian and Annabelle. Things were different in the 1930s for women. There were some things that were just expected and to try to wrap our current mindset around that is hard. I can't imagine the decisions and consequences the women of that generation lived with. Yet, these were some of the strongest women I've read about. They paved the way for us to be able to have the things we did. They thought outside of what society expected and broke down barriers.

The past always affects the present but not always in extremes. I think it helped Piper figure out who she was and who she didn't want to be by figuring out who her grandmother was during her youth. It also gave Piper the "family" she had always wanted.

My only disappointment is that we didn't find out more about Piper's grandfather during this process. Throughout the book he was portrayed as a man who was deeply disappointed in his granddaughter. She didn't live up to his hopes and dreams, so he wrote her off. I wanted to know more about him and why his expectations were so high for her. What drove him to drive her?

Karen White is now an author who I will want to seek out in the future. I'm only sorry that I waited so long to read this novel.

Final Take: 4.75/5

Lisa also reviewed it.



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