Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Review: "Airstreaming" by Tom Schabarum

Linda is a junior in high school growing up in Kansas City in the 1970s. She is fiercely devoted to her father, who went blind as a result of injuries he sustained during Vietnam. The two listen to jazz music, and even go to a club every now and again so they could simply listen to music. Their closeness causes resentment in Linda's mother, Clare, forced to work because her husband can't, and she wishes that her life didn't involve so many sacrifices on her part.

Martha was a troubled young woman when she met Jack, who was dealing with his own problems. But the two formed a strong connection, and married. What Martha wants more than anything is to have a baby, something that can make her feel truly rooted in the world (although we find out later that there's more to it than just that). Jack is reluctant but knows how much the desire for a baby consumes Martha, so when she becomes pregnant, he is guardedly happy but still worries that something could go wrong.

When a tragedy affects Linda and Clare, it brings Linda into Jack and Martha's life, and it is another tragedy that further brings all four of their lives together. In an effort to help Martha, Jack buys an Airstream trailer, with the thought that the two can travel the world and it will solve all of their problems. But Jack doesn't realize how deep the problems lie, and Linda seeks solace from Jack and Martha at the time when they need to give it most but need their own solace as well.

Airstreaming is a poignant, emotionally compelling book about the power of love—love for your spouse, love for your parent, love for your child, and the desire to be loved. It's a book about the hurts and resentments we keep buried inside, and our need to escape, even when we should face reality instead. And it's also a story about how sometimes the refuge we need isn't always the best solution for us.

I enjoyed this book and found it very moving. All of the characters have flaws, and fears, and problems they should talk about with others but don't. It's interesting that the book took place in the 1970s because at times it felt even more old fashioned than that. I thought the core of the story was very interesting and compelling, although I didn't think a subplot with Linda and Clare's neighbors meshed with the story well. Clearly, Clare is the least sympathetic character in the book, and although I understand what drove her, I wish that Tom Schabarum had focused a little bit more on the depth that he actually gave her.

How do you keep going when it feels like your life is going completely off course, and you don't know how to cope? Airstreaming is a book about people in desperate need of hope, and how they find the strength to carry on.

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