Before I get into today's post, I HAD to link to this incredible review of The Department of Lost and Found. I was truly so touched and humbled by it, so I hope you take the time to click over. (Haven't bought the book? What are you waiting for?)
So, the other day, I was hungry for a new book. So hungry that I couldn't wait for Amazon to deliver. (I'm a Prime member, so normally, I press "order," and the books are here within two days.) After dropping my son off at camp, I mosey to Barnes and Noble, and grab Jonathan Tropper's How to Talk to a Widower.
Well, I start it that afternoon on the subway to a meeting, and by the time I turned off the light for some shut-eye, I was 200 pages deep. (It was so good that I let my son watch an extra episode of Dragon Tales, just so I could keep reading. The very model of good parenting, I know!)
I woke up the next morning, desperate to read more, toted it to the dog run, (bonus for the pooch: he also got extra play time because I was so absorbed), and then skipped out on some work to finish it, sadly turning the last few pages because I didn't want it to end. God, I miss that book.
Anyway, after I lovingly placed it on our bookshelf, I started thinking about what, for me, makes a book click. It's almost intangible, you know? I mean, every book I buy, I hope that this magic will happen, but it doesn't always, in fact, it doesn't often. Every last thing about this book worked for me. Mostly, I suppose, it was the voice: if I'm not digging the voice of the narrator, the rest of book is shot. But there are other things too - what I really appreciated about HTTTAW was how I could be cracking up in one moment, then welling up in the next. (Yes, I actually started crying in the dog run! How mortifying!) Its emotional resonance really impacted me. And the character's story arc was also totally believable. By the end, even though I suspected it was coming, I really felt like, "Yup, that could happen. Those changes not only work, they're gratifying to the reader."
It was everything I hope for as a reader, and what I aspire to as an author. Will it win the Pulitzer? Hell, no. But it was all that I ask for and more out of a book. I'm now off to order Tropper's back list and hope that he pulls out the same stops for his previous works. (And no, I don't know the guy, so I'm certainly not shilling for him out of obligation or anything like that!)
So...have you read any books recently that captured this magic?