Friday, 14 August 2015

'Days of Awe' by Lauren Fox: A Book Review

Only a year ago Isabel Moore was married, the object of adoration of her ten-year-old daughter, and thought she knew everything about her wild, extravagant, beloved best friend, Josie. But in that one short year: her husband moved out and rented his own apartment; her daughter grew into a moody insomniac; and Josie -- impulsive, funny, secretive Josie -- was killed behind the wheel in a single-car accident. As Isabel tries to make sense of this shattering loss and unravel the months leading up to Josie's death, she comes to understand the shifts, large and small, that can upend a friendship and an entire life. Heartbreaking and wryly funny, Days of Awe is a masterly exploration of marriage, motherhood, and the often surprising shape of new love.

Note: I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of those stories that don't really have a beginning or an ending. This is one of those books that aren't very plot-driven; it's highly character-driven. But that's a risky approach for any writer, because fleshing out characters that can keep the reader captivated is difficult.

Somehow, Lauren Fox does it.

Days of Awe is not your average women's fiction book. It is by no means a chick lit (thankfully). Days of Awe is about the tragedy of life, death, love, and family. And somehow it is also about the normalcy of all of the above.

The book follows the life of Izzie, a middle-aged woman, a woman who lives in her thoughts. The story is told from varying perspectives of past and present, which seems rather confusing at first but then gives the reader a chance to see the bigger picture.

Her best friend Josie was bold, witty, energetic, funny, and also... slightly deranged.
Izzie spends most of her time telling us about Josie and her crazy antics, and how maybe it wasn't the car that killed Josie, it was everyone around her.

Izzie herself is a very... entertaining protagonist, even with all the numbness that surrounds her life. She is sarcastic to a T, somehow a pushover and a go-getter at the same time; and it's so interesting to look at the intricacies of her thoughts and wonder how she's going to get over those bad feelings by the end of the story.

I am absolutely in love with the way this book is written. The words feel like a punch to your gut, because they're so... raw.

This was what I loved about being a teacher, back then, when I loved it: that every child was some family's most precious gem, the joy of their hearts, and I could see that, even sometimes when their own parents probably couldn't; I could see that spark of perfection in every kid, in whatever form it took, a devious sense of humor or a disheveled sweetness, and I loved them all for it. They were grubby and loud and chaotic, and occasionally mean-spirited and dim-witted, sometimes feral and once in a while borderline psychotic. But they had beauty in them. 

You can't preserve anything; every happy moment is already on its way to becoming nostalgia. That's the problem.

My stomach dropped a little, and my heart thudded. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between thrill and panic.

Love was foolish and inevitable. We were just waiting to be shattered by it. The days were finite, full of awe.

Now moving on to the things I didn't like about this book.
Well, there wasn't much of a plot. And as much as I love slow-paced, thoughtful books, I did get frustrated a few times, wondering what the point was to this story. What is the author trying to tell me?

The ending, too, is rather abrupt. Izzie doesn't get the closure she deserves. Many subplot points are just left like that, hanging in thin air. Was that the author's aim? To show us that not every story gets a polished ending?

I'm going to go with 4 stars out of 5 for this one.
Days of Awe is unconventionally funny and brutally honest, and i
t definitely served as a much-needed break from all the angsty young adult novels I've been writing/reading lately. For all you tragic readers out there, this one's for you.

This book was released on August 4th, 2015. Do grab a copy for yourself and tell me what you think. Already read it? What were your thoughts on the ending?

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