Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review: "You Lost Me There" by Rosecrans Baldwin

First of all, how friggin' cool is the name Rosecrans Baldwin? Definitely begs for some notoriety, don't you think? Well, after reading this tremendously affecting book, I have little doubt Baldwin is on the fame track.

Victor Aaron is a fairly well-known Alzheimer's researcher running a university lab in Maine. He is struggling with the recent death of his screenwriter wife, Sara, with whom he had only recently gotten back together after an estrangement. One sleepless night he finds a stack of index cards on which Sara was chronicling what she determined to be the instances in their marriage where their relationship changed direction. (This was an exercise recommended to them by a marriage counselor.) As Victor reviews more and more of the cards, he realizes his perceptions of their marriage—and some of his memories of their relationship—differed significantly from Sara's, which leads him to question much of their past. This soul-searching, plus his encounters with his childhood best friend, his goddaughter, his lab director, his wife's eccentric aunt and a woman with whom he has had a romantic encounter, leads Victor to at least a few moments of reckoning.

I really enjoyed the general premise of this book, as it tried to examine the concept of what makes a memory, and how two people might see the same situation completely differently. Baldwin is a gifted writer and I found the story very readable and compelling. I did struggle, however, because I didn't find any of the characters very appealing at first glance (and some characters had so many quirks they never appealed to me). I just couldn't understand why Victor wanted to deal with so many unpleasant people. But that's what life is about: taking the good with the bad. And that was the appeal of You Lost Me There: some parts I loved and some parts I didn't.

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