Sunday, January 17, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Bonnie Grove's Talking to the Dead ~ Reviewed

This was one of those books. In the pile of books I wanted/needed to read. It was right up my alley. See my review below.

Talking to the Dead

In her first novel, author Bonnie Grove offers readers a tender, quirky story about grief—and second chances

“Kevin was dead and the people in my house wouldn’t go home. They mingled after the funeral, eating sandwiches, drinking tea, and speaking in muffled tones. I didn’t feel grateful for their presence. I felt exactly nothing,” writes Bonnie Grove in Talking to the Dead (David C Cook, June 2009). “Funerals exist so we can close doors we’d rather leave open. But where did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake?”

In her first novel, beloved author Bonnie Grove pens a poignantly realistic and uplifting story of hope, grace, and recovery from grief. Grove’s main character, twenty-something Kate Davis, can’t seem to get the grieving widow thing right. She’s supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead, she’s camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep—because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind? Kate’s attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an “eclectically spiritual” counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, an exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate’s fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past…and Kevin begins to shout. Will the voice ever stop?

In this tender, quirky novel about embracing life, Grove patiently walks readers through the depths and mysteries of extreme sorrow after the death of a loved one. As she takes an unflinching look at the mental health industry, Grove’s training in counseling and psychology brings realism and empathy to grief and mental breakdown. While Kate must confront her own loss to find the grace to go on, readers will be led to the God who is always willing and able to comfort hearts in pain.

My Review:

One of my favorite discoveries is a great book. Sometimes a great book makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes it makes me jealous because of the wordsmithery of the author, and sometimes it penetrates my mind and makes me think and rethink.

When I open the cover of a book I'm not sure what I'm going to find. A rare book will grab me from the first sentence and hang onto me through to the end. But occasionally the first paragraph or even the first chapter will fool me into thinking I've got a great book, but sometimes the great fizzles into mediocre or even just entertaining. Those novels always leave me disappointed and sad over the lost potential.

I am shocked that Talking to the Dead is Bonnie Grove's first novel. From the moment I began reading, I was in the story, compelled to learn the details of Kate's spiral into the depths of grief and her attempts to claw her way out of her pain. Grove writes with a sensitivity and depth that is rare. Her background in psychology and her spiritual experiences gave a richness to this novel that is both fascinating and hopeful. Grove's lyrical voice, her humor, her descriptions added layers of reality to Kate and her friends and family.

My only complaint was that I didn't feel clarity and closure within a few of Kate's relationships. But that leaves room for a follow-up novel and I'd be very okay with that.

Upon closing the book after the last words I was able to sigh wistfully, the ultimate book experience.