Friday, August 19, 2016

The Things We Knew by Catherine West

9780718078102Catherine West has made her Christian fiction debut with a touching contemporary family story set
in Nantucket.  In recent years, a multitude of novels have appeared showcasing the sibling who stayed home (and thus dutifully caring for aging mom or dad) versus the sibling(s) who went out into the world expecting to fulfill their every dream.  Depending on the author, one or all of the siblings are unfulfilled and a reunion of sorts back in the old hometown, always a small, quaint place, brings about all kinds of truth finding.  West has not strayed too far from that much used plot, but somehow, her story was refreshing.  Lynette Carlisle is the daughter who has remained at home, and now years after all four of her siblings have left, she alone is responsible for their father who is showing signs of early onset Alzheimer's.  Her daycare job doesn't pay enough to keep their large home going, and even she realizes that they may have to sell it.  Only her mother's will stipulates that there can be no sale unless everyone is in agreement and is physically present when the decision is made.  As Lynette calls everyone home, she must also face the nightmares that keep her awake most nights.  Is her mother trying to tell her something? 

As not only the siblings return, but also Nicholas Cooper, the neighbor who was Lynette's adolescent crush, it seems that there may be a dark secret surrounding Mrs. Carlisle's accidental death when Lynette was only fourteen.  Could the life that Lynette remembers, the one full of beach parties, boat races, dancing, and her parents' art, be only a childish memory?  The returning siblings bring with them present day, adult problems, but perhaps facing the past is the only way to help their little sister, their father, and themselves. 

As I first said, the plot of this novel is NOT new, but West draws her characters as well as Lynette does her seaside art, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Her masterful character development and the mixture of multiple siblings with vastly different problems gives the book a depth that other stories may lack. I believe this book will be especially popular with younger readers of contemporary fiction.  I obtained a copy of this novel through our library system.

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