Always Something There to Remind Me

Every woman remembers her first love. Maybe it was college, high school, or even younger. And after we grow up, some of us wonder what he is doing now, and others of us think What if? or If only I could go back….  No heartbreak is quite as terrible as the first one, and that experience changes some of us, for better or for worse. Beth Harbison’s book, Always Something There to Remind Me, takes the reader on a journey through many moments in her own past as it tells the story of Erin Edwards.

Chapters alternate (for the most part) between present day adult Erin, told in first person, and the past 1980’s Erin, told in third person. We learn how the past has shaped the woman she has become. In high school, Erin is madly in love with Nate Lawson, and he feels the same way about her. The problem is that they have found each other too early in life and things just don’t last. Over twenty years later, Erin has a daughter, (by a man she wasn’t in love with), and is now dating the perfect guy. Rick is handsome, considerate, well able to provide for a family, and he loves Erin and wants to marry her. The only problem is that he isn’t Nate.

The loss of her only love has defined Erin’s life. She doesn’t let anyone get too close, pushing them away when they cross that invisible line. And then something happens. Nate suddenly reappears in her life, and Erin feels the same way she used to as a teenager. But things are complicated now. Erin has her daughter, Camille, and Rick, while Nate has a complicated situation of his own. The book does have a happy ending, giving credence to true love. And although the ending was satisfying, it was completely unrealistic.

Beth Harbison wrote Erin’s story with such emotion that it really did take me back…. I can still remember the excruciating heartbreak that went on for years after my first love cast me aside. I’d see him out somewhere, then cry all night long and wake up with a sinus infection the next morning and have no voice left. Not that I’d ever want him back; I’m very happy and in love with my husband. The point is that I can remember the pain in vivid detail, which the author captured extremely well in telling this story. It was also a very quick, entertaining read that I was able to (almost) finish in one sitting. Chick lit isn’t my usual genre, but this book was recommended to me, and I did enjoy it.


The Summoning

On my last trip to the library, I picked up an armful of YA fantasy books. I did the same thing around this time last year in an attempt to jumpstart my brain for NaNoWriMo. One of the books I picked up was The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong.

Chloe Saunders is a rich teen attending a high school for the arts. Her mother died when she was young and her dad travels a lot, so she is basically left with her nanny/housekeeper. While at school one day, puberty finally happens, and with it, some other changes that leave Chloe scared and confused. She begins to see, and hear, ghosts. Of course, this can’t be normal, and her Aunt Lauren, a physician, gets her a spot at the highly recommended Lyle House.

At Lyle House, Chloe is one of about six teens in residence. All of them have some sort of problem or issue, which is their reason for being there. Simon is charming and cute, and seems to be there only for his foster brother Derek, who has phenomenal strength. Tori is obnoxious and mean, and Rae has a special love of fire. Chloe is diagnosed with schizophrenia, but soon comes to realize that there is something else going on, something that binds them all together that is not mental illness.

I thought this book was okay. I really wanted to like it more, but the way it was written made it seem geared toward the younger portion of the YA target audience. Within the first few chapters, Chloe got her period for the first time. While I realize that this was just to mark the beginning of other changes happening in her life, it actually only served to annoy me. The plot was very good and parts were definitely entertaining. The book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and it did seem like the next book promised to be better, considering where the story was headed. However, at this point, I don’t know that I’ll ever actually finish the series. There are just too many other good books out there.

The Double Life of Alfred Buber

I just finished reading another book I won from a Goodreads giveaway. The Double Life of Alfred Buber, by David Schmahmann, has been compared with the style of Vladimir Nabokov. I must confess that I have never read Lolita, but it has been on my infinitely long to-read list for quite some time.

Told in first person, Alfred Buber’s story is a slow meandering tale, taking the reader through the maze of his life and how he has perceived his life. There is a bit of discrepancy between reality and his perception of it. Buber seems a respectable lawyer, a parter in an old firm. But that is only part of his deception. Surely, a respectable man wouldn’t fly halfway around the world to seek something in attempt to remedy his loneliness, something that he someday believes to be love.

At some point, his two separate lives converge and he is unable continue his charade at a respectable, normal life. Although it seems that he has lost so much (mainly just image), he discovers that he has something else in his life that might make life worth living. Unfortunately, Buber ends his narrative before the reader knows what will come next. It almost seems as if he is making his final preparations and that he is coming to terms with all that his life has, and hasn’t, been.

I found Buber, as well as the other characters in the book, very interesting. I never knew if he was telling his story true, leaving out events, or adding embellishments. I guess he was telling it true from his perspective. I did enjoy the book very much, and even after finishing it, I find my thoughts captivated by this very unlikely, but unforgettable, character.