Thursday, March 3, 2011
Precious and Fragile Things - Megan Hart
Gilly Soloman has been reduced to a mothering machine, taking care of everyone and everything except herself. But the machine has broken down. Burnt out by endless days of crying children and menial tasks, and exhausted from always putting herself last, Gilly doesn't immediately consider the consequences when she's carjacked. With a knife to her throat, her first thought is that she'll finally get some rest. Someone can save her for a change.
But salvation isn't so forthcoming. Stranded in a remote, snowbound cabin with this stranger, hours turn to days, days into weeks. As time forges a fragile bond between them, she learns her captor is not the lunatic she first believed, but a human being whose wasted life has been shaped by secrets and tragedy. Yet even as their connection begins to foster trust, Gill knows she must never forget he's still a man teetering on the edge. One who just might take her with him. (Summary from book - Image from kobobooks.com - Book given free for review)
My Review: I was a little wary of starting this book. It had an interesting premise, but one that could tank if done poorly (case and point).
I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this book made me feel. Gilly’s frustration with the constant demands of stay-at-home mothering was both palpable and familiar. Her thoughts and emotions echoed my own more often than I would like to admit, though in slightly less dramatic ways. I would love to say that I think only happy, fluffy thoughts about motherhood, but that would be flat out lying. I love my kids, but some days it’s tough being their primary source of food, entertainment, rides, and clean clothes.
Gilly is a worn-out mother on the verge of a mental breakdown who, in a moment of desperation, makes a decision that is both horrifying and difficult to fathom. It took me a while to come to terms with her choice, but through the course of the novel I began to understand her fears and motivation. I still can’t say that I would have made the same decision, but I understand why she did.
Kidnapped and dragged to a remote cabin in the woods, Gilly is held captive by a young man named Todd, who never meant to take her but will not let her go. Trapped by snow and circumstance, the two gradually form a tenuous bond. Their interaction becomes almost filial, as they open up about their own tragic pasts and draw comfort from each other. I thought the relationship between Gilly and Todd, or, more precisely, it's development, was one of the more intriguing aspects of this book.
Todd is at once pathetic, psychotic, and oddly endearing, but not the monster that Gilly expects him to be. His severe emotional issues are grounded in a childhood trauma so sickening that I couldn’t help but be sympathetic. However, I was disappointed by the sheer volume of F-words (and others) in this story. I suppose, it helped Todd seem more intimidating and spoke to the both of the character's emotions, but the average one to two F-bombs a page was a bit much, even for me, and distracted from the story.
One of the more obvious themes of this book was the intensity of motherly love and what a beautiful, horrible, ferocious thing it can be. As a young girl Gilly suffered through her mother’s own mental health issues, and is overcome with fear that she will put her children through the same fate. So, she bites her tongue and screams into her pillow, determined that her children never see her fears or imperfections and ultimately, it is a mother’s love that saves them all.
I was unprepared for how this story ended. For some reason, I thought the story was going to go another way, and was pleasantly surprised (in a very disturbing way) that it did not end all sunshine and butterflies. It ended in a way that I didn’t necessarily enjoy, but could respect.
Precious and Fragile Things was more than I thought it would be. While the story slowed occasionally, I couldn’t tear away from the interaction between Gilly and Todd. Because of the subject matter, I wouldn’t read this book again or recommend it to just any reader, but I thought the overall concept was fascinating, and that it could be an excellent pick for the right book club.
My Rating: 3.25 Stars
For the sensitive reader: This book has LOTS of profanity, crude language, and some discussion of sexual matters.
Sum it up: An expertly titled and disturbing tale about the complexities of motherly love, loss, and the relationships that change our lives. Oh, and I’ve hit my lifetime quota for the F-word now.