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Between Here and April
Back cover synopsis:
When a deep-rooted memory sudden surfaces, Elizabeth Burns becomes obsessed with the long-ago disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy. Driven to investigate, Elizabeth discovers a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article revealing the details that had been hidden from her as a child — shocking revelations about April’s mother Adele. Elizabeth, now herself a mother, tracks down, one by one, the people who knew Adele Cassidy and who might give her the insight necessary to understand how a mother could commit that most incomprehensible of crimes. But answers are elusive and the questions raised lead Elizabeth deep into her own compromised life…
I wrote the back cover synopsis as a juxtaposition. The book is really not as thrilling nor as mysterious as it is made out to be. While reading this book, there were many elements that confused me, frustrated me, and just plain annoyed me. For one, I never really underst00d Elizabeth’s obsession with the disappearance of April Cassidy. The memory came about when Elizabeth went to see the play Medea, then soon started having feinting spells during anything that reminded her of the year April disappeared from class. The investigation was not all that interesting either. Elizabeth works as a journalist, so it was no problem for her to turn this obsession into a work assignment and be paid to go back to her hometown and interview old neighbors that hadn’t moved away.
One of the major disappointments in this book was learning about Adele Cassidy and how her side of the story would be developed for the reader. I felt it was a bit of a cheat to have 32 pages of a word-by-word transcript between Adele and her therapist. Although it showed a lot of insight into Adele and laid some foundations for why she did what she did, it still felt…too easy.
Another disappointment was with Elizabeth herself. I found her to make poor decisions throughout the course of the novel, and despite her husband’s random and new kinky sexual requests, I still don’t understand why she never told him about the one most traumatic moment in her life, which would explain why she’s so hesitant to play along with his requests. And for all her complaints about his as a neglectful and naive husband, she certainly did not act the saint in the relationship either.
All the men in this book were portrayed as egotistic, abusive, hyper-sexed and just naive and ignorant. There was not a single man with redeeming qualities in this book. Most of the women were portrayed as victims, or bystanders, held down and oppressed.
What I did like about the novel, yes there was something I liked about this novel, was Kogan’s descriptive writing and the ability to create a sympathetic environment for a crime so heinous and disturbing. She really excelled when she began writing about war photography and war journalism. That was when I realized that her first book, Shutterbabe, is a memoir of her years as a war photographer.
I think fans of Alice Sebold, particularly Almost Moon, will really enjoy this book, due to the similar themes and topics of undetected and undiagnosed mental illnesses, and mother-daughter issues that haunt the characters.
Between Here and April
By Deborah Copaken Kogan
Algonquin Books, 2008
Book 22 of 2011
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