I’m fairly certain this is the first time I have been completely clueless as to how to start my review. My normal banter seems wildly inappropriate, yet focusing entirely on the gloom, I feel will have an adverse effect.
When I first read the slip cover for “Days of Grace” I picked up two very distinctive things,
1. Struggling with the affects of war through the eyes of a 12 year old girl
2. Experiencing the inner turmoil of a lost love
but when it was all said and done, when I closed the back cover, and switched off the light, it occurred to me that what I got was so much more.
Troubled with the idea of loosing her daughter unnecessarily to war, Nora’s mother does the unthinkable… offers her up as an evacuee, and plops her on a train bound for the country, however, what her mother sees as a selfless act of sacrifice, Nora saw as abandonment. Unsure of herself (or her surroundings) Nora’s mind starts to run wild, that is until she meets Grace. As a girl who is used to running free (and getting her way) Grace teaches Nora a whole world of things she never knew existed… books, beauty, and love… but when Nora’s love continues to go unrequited, and her life suddenly starts to take a direct left, the place that she lovingly started to refer to as home, is not so welcoming anymore. In an effort to escape an unhealthy situation, and take control of her own future, Nora decides to runaway. With Grace, dutifully by her side, the two girls set out to experience the other side of life… the war torn, desolate streets of London. Will their love for each other be enough to battle the forces around them, will the shady side of their new home tear them apart, and will Nora ever accomplish the most challenging feat of all… forgiving herself for the things she has done for love?
“Catherine Hall” did exactly the opposite of what I expected in this novel… she focused on the negative. This story was not about WWII, or even an enduring friendship for that matter, what is was… was a story about a young girl so desperate for a family, that her own conscience created a mutilated web of abandonment issues, and internal punishment. The fact that Hall used such a significant, (and life altering) war as her backdrop only added fuel to the already abundant turmoil. Now… does the fact that this novel is so blatantly depressing mean that I disliked like it? No… on the contrary, the writing (for being a debut novel) was quiet impressive. The plot was split into 2 eras, both boasting the same narrative voice (Nora) but both in very different times in their life. Writing in this way not only allowed the reader to experience Nora’s emotional unsteadiness as a young girl, but also allowed the reader to connect to her on a deeper level, as her age gave way to unfiltered thoughts of the past. The character development was astounding, (there was no way the story could have possibly made sense without it) but the thing that caught my interest was Hall’s very straight forward way of relaying details. There were no paragraphs of flowery descriptives, letters of profession, or even filler chapters (which so many new authors rely on) instead, you had a straight forward plot, with a straight forward objective, with just enough twist to keep the reader from taking unscheduled trips in their own head.
Do I think this book is for everyone? No. The novel, as a whole, was well written, but remains a difficult read, and though it’s lovely (in its own way) it remains sad. Only those truly dedicated to literary structure, and an artfully crafted story need apply, I’m afraid that everyone else will find it to much to handle, and consequently… be unhappy with the book as a whole.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Sometimes it’s healthier to love the attainable, than to destroy our lives with the untouchable.
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