Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Jennie Hansen's Shudder
This is the description from the backliner of Shudder, by Jennie Hansen:
Darcy and Clare grew up as best friends, sharing trials and triumphs from preschool through college graduation. Now they’re sharing an apartment in Boise, Idaho, where Clare just landed a great job and Darcy is pursuing a teaching certificate. There’s only one problem: Blaine, Clare’s boyfriend. His chauvinistic, know-it-all ways set Darcy’s teeth on edge. Darcy vows not to let Blaine ruin her lifelong friendship with Clare, but when Blaine insists on moving in, Darcy suddenly finds herself alone. The estranged friends forge ahead on seemingly separate paths. Engaged to Blaine, Clare becomes trapped in ugly family politics and vicious treatment from her fiancé. Darcy finds a temporary home with Karlene, an accident victim seeking live-in help, but a twisted plot soon threatens their safety. Clare’s wedding briefly reunites her with Darcy, yet the friends have never been farther apart. And when Clare finds herself in mortal peril and finally calls on Darcy to help, it might be too late.
I liked this book for several reasons. I should probably preface this review by admitting that the author is a friend of mine. I will, however, attest to the objectivity of this review by stating that if I didn't like the book, I wouldn't have reviewed it.
Here, in a nutshell, are several of the things that worked for me:
*The realism. The book pulls no punches, no pun intended, and I liked that the author portrays the abusive relationship in the book as realistic without being gratuitous.
*Clare's internal dialogue. It's everything I've ever heard about the thought processes of a victim of abuse.
*The contrast between an unhealthy and healthy relationship. The difference is clear.
*The setting. Yes, I know, it's in Idaho. (If you're from Idaho, no offense intended. I live in Utah. Like I have a lot of room to talk). But it's BOISE, which is a very cool city. It really worked for me.
*The mystery/suspense portion of the plot. I love a good suspense novel, and the fact that I stayed up late trying to finish the book before exhaustion finally took over tells me something. When I fight sleep to finish a book, I know it's a good one.
*I found myself feeling for Clare, and there wasn't a tidy wrap-up to her story. I was sympathetic to her without thinking that she was TSTL. (Too Stupid to Live). I thought that given her painful background, her vulnerability to Blaine was believable.
I know this subject isn't an easy one to broach and I admire the author for doing it well. I can imagine she felt a certain amount of pain? discomfort? at throwing her creations into such a bad situation. This is more than just escapist fiction, (which I do love, I write it myself), it's stuff that happens in real life and it isn't pretty. The healing power of the Savior and loving friends and family is clear, though, and gives a ray of hope. I was satisfied with Clare's ending, and yet my first question for Jennie was to ask if there was a sequel on the way to continue her story. Her answer was that no, this is where it ended for her, that in real life, sometimes we don't know how things pan out. After she said that, it made perfect sense to me.
I would recommend this book to anyone- it's a good fix if you like suspense and romance, or also if you prefer your fiction to be more on the "realistic" side- rather like Anita Stansfield, Rachel Ann Nunes, Jodi Picoult, etc.
I loved it!