Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"Look Again" was the April selection for our Book Club. I'd not read anything by this author, although I do have a couple of her books sitting on my shelves. I went into the audio stone cold - no preconceptions or knowledge of the topic of the book.
Ellen Gleeson is your typical working single-parent, raising a spirited 3 year-old son whom she adopted as a baby. Layoffs threaten her position as a journalist, but hopes that the tall, dark and handsome boss of hers, with whom she has a mutual crush, might protect her. But when she sees a little white card in the mail entitled "Have You Seen This Child?", and the age-progressed picture looks eerily like her little boy, her life is turned upside down. Ellen goes into investigative journalist mode, determined to get at the truth, and also make the right decision for her little boy. She ultimately discovers much more than she ever expected.
Despite the subject matter, which is very serious, the tone of the book still came across as light. Maybe it was the prose, maybe it was the narrator, maybe it was the Latin Antonio Banderas-ish boss that was so easily wooed, I'm not sure. It was also predictable, and tightly tied up with a bow at the end, which I am sure contributed to my lasting impression. Scottoline does throw out good discussion questions and ethical quandaries though, which I am sure will fuel our Book Club chatter. If you discovered your child was adopted illegally, would you say anything or keep it to yourself? OK, so say you think you might say something, but what if you found out that the biological parents of your child aren't model citizens, then what? Is it our right to judge, and play God with this information? What would YOU do to protect your family?
In her subplot, the author also paints a picture of life as a single parent with a more than full-time job...the chaos, the jealousy of a babysitter spending more time with the child than the parent, the never-ending exhaustion. Scottoline, a single parent herself, seems to be intimate with these emotions. She also addresses the loss of a mother, and the dynamics of a father/daughter relationship when dad establishes a new life wants to remarry. All of these topics are what elevate this book from boorishly mediocre to an entertaining read.
So on to the Book Club discussion:
The girls all seemed to feel a little snarky about the book. There was one who hadn't finished it, and wanted us to fill her in. When we walked her through the last half of the book, it became obvious how absolutely ludicrous the whole climax and chain of events really were. However, as I expected, we did have spirited discussion over wine and appetizers. We covered the gamut, including how far we would be willing to protect our children, examples of adoption nightmares, the downside of open adoptions, cheating spouses (which OF COURSE got us steaming about Jesse James and Tiger Woods and the cop-out of "rehab"), the feasibility of single-parent adoptions, and other books we've read with similar topics.
The bottom line on Look Again was lukewarm. I believe most of us would give her other books another chance though.
2.5 out of 5 stars