Monday, November 10, 2008

Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown

Review by Joyce Moyer Hostetter

Author Historical Fiction
HEALING WATER (Spring 2008)
BLUE (2006)

There are times when I should just buy the book!

This was one of them. I renewed it at least twice and still paid overdues yesterday when I returned it. (That was after my library gave me a recorded phone notification and a snail mail one too. I think they wanted it back and I don't blame them.

Hugging the Rock is a good book to buy!

I've been wanting to review it for weeks (just as I've wanted to pull weeds in my flowerbeds, clean my house, and do research for my work-in-progress). But sometimes there aren't enough hours to do the things I want.

So, anyway I returned the book and now I will have to write this from memory. Well, actually I did sit in the library parking lot and scribble a few favorite quotes on the back of a deposit slip before I forced myself to take the book inside.

This novel is heartbreakingly sweet and amazingly spare. If I had written this story it would be at least a hundred pages longer. It would take me a whole paragraph to say what Susan Taylor Brown puts in one sentence. It is a verse novel. So eloquent. So reader friendly. So universal in its message.

Rachel's mom abandons her. And who is she left with? Her dad. "The Rock". Just when she needs someone to hold her! Grandmother tries to help but mostly manages to annoy both Rachel and her dad who actually just need to find their new life together.

Hugging the Rock is a long emotional journey told in a short space. I love emotional journeys. And while I tend toward melodrama I also loved the spareness of this story.

Especially the chapter titled Mother's Day. Would it cross my mind to leave the page blank? Never! And if it did, would I be able to follow through? Probably not...I think my favorite quote comes from page 138 -"She did the best she could with what she had in her at the time. " That bit of wisdom about Rachel's missing mom comes from "The Rock". And, while I'm not a psychologist, I declare, it goes a long way toward explaining inexplicable human behavior! (IMHO)

And then there's this - "He hugs me tight and I realize that some rocks have soft spots and that I am melting into him."Ah, I do love rocks. And I loved this book! Gonna' have to buy it for myself.


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