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*Note: I received a print copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review for iRead book tour*
What makes us step back to examine the events and people that have shaped our lives? And what happens when what we discover leads to more questions?
Angelica Schirrick wonders how her life could have gotten so far off-track. With two children in tow, she begins a journey of self-discovery that leads her back home to Ohio. It pains her to remember the promise her future once held and the shattering revelations that derailed her life.
Can she face the failures and secrets of her past and move forward? Somehow she must learn to accept the violence of her beginning before she can be open to life, and a second chance at love.
Reading this book was like watching a portrait taking shape, with each messy stroke of misplaced teenage angst and every jagged line of anxious parenting decisions. And the canvas – a secret about Angelica’s past that she mistakenly uses as a yardstick to determine her self-worth. However, the final picture that emerges is of a life lived in a way that mattered, was relevant and also strived to make a change in lives of other women.
This is my second women’s/literary fiction novel told in a second-person narrative (after Hesitation Wounds), and I think I have really developed a liking to this genre and style. Here, Angelica tells us of her journey by “narrating” it to Joe, her first boyfriend. The book starts from her present life with her kids but we are soon taken back to the mid-1970’s, the year when everything changed for her. We are introduced to her overbearing and overprotective mother, her snarky grandma, and soft-spoken dad. She has always found her mom’s anxiety-ridden nature stifling but reasoned it as motherly concern. But it finally gets to her once she is at the end of her high school years, and when she meets Joe, she falls in love with him and starts rebelling at home. She starts sneaking out, breaking curfew and dreaming of a future with him. But one day, Joe disappears. She is heartbroken and to add to her volatile state, she finds out something about her past that further distances her from her parents. It splits her family apart, and starts her on a downward spiral. She turns self-destructive, walks out of her home, refuses to go to college despite her dad’s best efforts to convince her, and takes up low-paying jobs to sustain herself. She deliberately chooses the wrong men and discards them. Well, one of them sticks around longer and that is Gavin, who she ends up marrying.
The way I saw this book is one of how relationships evolve over time – and Angelica has four main ones – as a daughter, as a teenage girlfriend, as a wife and as a mother. My favorite one was how Angelica’s relationship changed for the better with her parents over the years. It was just so organic and real. There was no big scene or confrontation where everyone is shouting or apologizing. But her parents were there for her always, even after years of strained ties and I just liked how it was gestures of help and just “being there” that was respected from both sides. It is a far cry from Angelica’s teenage years when she refuses to see reason even after everything her dad tries doing for her, right from buying a car to pushing her to join college. I loveeddd her dad, he is such a gem. Angelica shared a more tumultuous relationship with her mum. Over time, they communicate better and all the past hurt fades into something that both can deal with studied nonchalance. There is also a lovely moment in the book when Angelica helps her mom speak out about her past and unburden herself.
If there is one thing I couldn’t really connect with is her love for Joe. More specifically, I didn’t understand how she could carry a torch for him all these years. I mean, I did get it when she was in high school and there is obviously this whole thrill of your first boyfriend and sexual experience when you think you have found your one true love.. but I was just surprised she never outgrew it. Not even after all the years and even through a marriage. And well, to be honest, I just felt she fell in love with the “idea” of being love. Of her travelling with Joe everywhere and him singing songs and poetry to her. They hardly had any real, long conversations or anything, and more of sneaking around and having sex.
Speaking of the sexual content, there is quite a bit of it in this book. The way it was described was .. well, it was a mix of flowery-cheese, crude and matter-of-fact. And I think that’s why I liked it. Because, multiple experiences were described, with her boyfriend, husband and other partners. I liked that the author was mindful of the fact that sex is not just physical and it would have been so unrealistic if it was written the same way every time. I mean, Angelica with Joe in her teens is not the same Angelica with her husband in her 30’s.
Overall, I loved the book and I am so glad I signed up to review this for the tour. It is such a well-written book and paced so well. It is a little over 250 pages, but so many years of a person’s life is covered; and I never felt like the transitions in timelines was jerky or confusing. Do check this out, it is a wonderful addition to women’s fiction.
In the Context of Love | Book Trailer from Linda Sienkiewicz on Vimeo.
About the author:
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is a published poet and fiction writer, cynical optimist, fan of corgis, tea drinker, and wine lover from Michigan. Her poetry, short stories, and art have been published in more than fifty literary journals, including Prairie Schooner, Clackamas Literary Review, Spoon River, and Permafrost.
She received a poetry chapbook award from Bottom Dog Press, and an MFA from the University of Southern Maine. Linda lives with her husband in southeast Michigan, where they spoil their grandchildren and then send them back home.
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Do check out all the tour stops! –
March 28 – Corinne Rodrigues – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
March 28 – Olio by Marilyn – review / author interview / giveaway
March 29 – The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass – book spotlight / giveaway
March 29 – Writing Pearls – review
March 30 – Book Reviews Nature Photos – review / author interview
March 30 – Amie’s Book Reviews – review / giveaway
March 31 – Sahar’s Blog – review
March 31 – #redhead.with.book – review / giveaway
April 1 – A Splendid Messy Life – review / author interview / giveaway
April 1 – The World As I See It – review / giveaway
April 4 – A Blue Million Books – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
April 4 – The Autistic Gamer – review
April 5 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
April 5 – The Phantom Paragrapher – review
April 6 – A Bookaholic Blog – review
April 6 – Deal Sharing Aunt – review / author interview / giveaway
April 7 – I’d Rather Be At the Beach – review / giveaway
April 8 – Ali – The Dragon Slayer – review / guest post / giveaway
April 11 – Bound 4 Escape – review / giveaway
April 11 – T’s Stuff – review / author interview / giveaway
April 12 – Readers’ Muse – review / guest post
April 12 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway
April 13 – Allthingsbookie – review / giveaway
April 14 – bookmyopia – review / giveaway
April 14 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – book spotlight / author interview
April 15 – Novel Escapes – review