Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: "Days of Awe" by Lauren Fox

They say tragedies often happen in threes, and that's precisely what has happened to Isabel Moore. Following her best friend Josie's tragic death in a car accident, Isabel's life has been further turned upside down by the imminent demise of her marriage, and the fact that her preteen daughter Hannah is starting to hate her.

"Death smashes a crater into your life, and you're left alone to sort through the rubble."

In Days of Awe, Lauren Fox examines the life of a woman who thought she had everything—a best friend who "got" her, a teaching job she loved for the most part, a family she cherished—only to discover things are not as she imagined, and in fact, things seem to be rapidly slipping from her grasp. Isabel tries to figure out where Josie's life went wrong and tries to understand what was happening in the months before her death. Were there signs she missed? Who was to blame? And shouldn't everyone's lives remain in flux until she's had the time to process the loss of Josie?

But recovering from this loss isn't all she has to deal with. She needs to figure out whether her marriage is worth fighting for, if there is a way to get her daughter to like her again, and consider whether to let someone else into her heart. But beyond that, she needs to find a way out of the rut she is in, and whether she can prevent herself from the same behavior patterns and same choices that have caused her problems in the past.

"What if you make the right choices? What if you shelve those immature and solipsistic pursuits in favor of the grown-up occupations of family and career—happily, you do it without regret, in love, looking forward—then those fall apart? You turn around and you're staring at the moonscape that used to be your life."

I found this book tremendously engaging and enjoyable, and read most of it in one day while sitting at the pool. While I didn't necessarily agree with all of Isabel's choices, I really like characters that try to diffuse difficult situations with sarcasm and humor and yet don't always correctly gauge the moods and tolerance of those around them, mainly because I do the same thing more often than I should. Even if not everything that happens is surprising, I still found myself wanting to know what happened next. These are complex, fascinating characters.

Fox is a very talented writer. How many of us have struggled with grief and chaos in our lives, wondering whether the choices we are making are the right ones, or whether we even have the capacity to change the path we're heading down? Days of Awe is moving, amusing, thought provoking, and very well written. That's a pretty great combination.

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