REVIEW: FAMILY TREE, BY SUSAN WIGGS

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Growing up in Switchback, Vermont, Annie Rush had learned the love of cooking from her grandmother, and early on, she had a dream. Her childhood hobby, besides cooking, was taping herself cooking and talking about the process, as if on a TV show.

The family company, Sugar Rush, involved processing and distributing maple syrup.

Family Tree begins in LA, where Annie and her husband, Martin Harlow, produce a TV cooking show called The Key Ingredient. They have a beautiful home, and on the morning when we first meet Annie, she has just been interviewed by someone from People magazine.

And shortly afterwards, she discovers that she is pregnant.

Eager to share the news with Martin, she heads off to the lot, and approaches Martin’s trailer. In that moment, and in the subsequent ones, everything changes for Annie.

A year later, she is slowly coming out of a coma, with TBI, in a facility in Vermont. She has no memory, and it will take some time for her to piece together her life; it will take a while longer for her to realize how her fairytale story ended.

From there, our story sweeps back and forth, back to “then” and moving forward to “now,” pulling together the bits of the story of Annie’s life before college, and before she met Martin. Her love for her high school sweetheart Fletcher Wyndham seems destined to fail over and over again, as they constantly come up against bad timing.

The story captured my interest from the beginning, although I must admit that sometimes I wanted more time spent in the “now.” In the end, and somewhat predictably, we get a heartwarming resolution to the issues that interfered with Annie’s happiness, and we get to watch as she puts her new life together, “starting from scratch.” 4 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

 

REVIEW: DREAM OF THE BLUE ROOM, BY MICHELLE RICHMOND

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Jenny, our first person narrator, had been friends with Amanda Ruth Lee since childhood. They grew up together in Alabama, and their days and hours spent in a unique boathouse with a blue room is a time that Jenny often remembers now.

For Amanda Ruth is dead. Murdered 14 years before.

Dream of the Blue Room carries us back and forth in time, with the present tense narration our clue to what is going on in Jenny’s world nowadays. She is on a cruise ship, visiting China, as a last remembrance to Amanda Ruth, whose father was Chinese. She is traveling with Dave, her husband, from whom she has been separated for two months, living on separate sides of Central Park in Manhattan. She is carrying Amanda Ruth’s ashes in a unique tin box. Does Jenny hope that the trip will bring her closer to Dave again? Will Dave’s need to “rescue” those around him help them reconnect?

As we learn more about Mr. Lee and his thoughts and feelings toward Amanda Ruth and her sexual orientation, we have to wonder why honoring her father would have been a wish of hers. But sometimes, the mind is a curious thing.

We also see how Jenny and Dave first fell in love, what drew them together, and what has slowly pulled them apart. Does Dave know the secret life that Jenny and Amanda Ruth shared? Did he hope to rescue her from that life?

On the ship, Jenny meets a man named Graham. Theirs is a unique bond that grows with each day. What will Graham ask of Jenny before they part? What will happen to her afterwards?

The story had a mournful tone, with all the dreams and imaginings…and there were a few answers to some crucial questions as we moved along. But were they really answers, or more imaginings? I couldn’t stop reading this book, but it left me feeling disoriented…and a little sad. 4 stars.