Saturday, May 31, 2014
Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940 with a love of ships and high hopes. Though he leaves behind his new wife, Agnes, and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream—but things change when he is shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister in his own hometown of Boston—and finds an immediate and undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.
Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic and a historical drama that brings the streets and neighborhoods of Boston vividly to life from World War II through the civil rights era to the present day, A Life Apart takes readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, unending guilt, racial tensions, death, and the profound effects of war.
I absolutely loved this book! It has everything I like in a book - it takes place over a period of about 50 years, chapters are told from different character's point of view, the writing is believable, the characters are flawed but likeable and the emotions are raw and moving.
I found myself constantly thinking "why didn't they just....." but then had to remember it was a long time ago and the world was a different place than the one we live in now.
For myself, I wanted most for Beatrice to be happy. I know it was wrong for her to be with another woman's husband but I liked her. She was strong and confident and a woman I could admire - and I could sympathize with how she was drawn to Morris. I hated how he would stay away from her for so long and go back thinking things would just go back to the way they were. My heart broke for her heartaches.
Two things I didn't like about the book - one was some of the language I found very objectionable. But, it was used in context and it wasn't all that frequent - and it was appropriate (unfortunately) where it was used. The other thing was something in the very beginning of the book that wasn't resolved at the end of the book. When I read the last page I thought "wait - that can't be the end! What about....". I'm guessing the author wanted us to draw our own conclusion but I wanted to know what she was thinking - after all, the entire book was what she was thinking and it was wonderful.
I highly recommend this book. Here are some links that will give you some more details.
Info to buy the book: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/205098/a-life-apart-by-l-y-marlow
And an excerpt from the book (just to whet your appetite): http://www.scribd.com/doc/216346082/A-Life-Apart-by-L-Y-Marlow-Excerpt
"I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."