Sunday, July 18, 2010

What Do Readers Want?

Home Safe is my first Elizabeth Berg book and one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. The only thing that could have made this book a more perfect read (for me) is the weather. It should have been cold outside, maybe rainy. My house should have been clean. I should have been bundled up in comfy lounge wear and thick socks with a crackling fire in the fireplace. With Home Safe, atmosphere is part of it because the story itself is filled with atmospere. In spite of the hot weather and my dirty house, it was a perfect read.

One minute I was laughing and the next I was trying to hold back tears. The next moment I felt anxious and hyper. For me, this book was an emotional roller coaster ride. When I put the story down each night, I'd lay in bed wide-eyed, thinking, remembering my childhood, wanting to get up to write, write, write. I marveled at Berg's observations. Her insight is amazing. I read some of her sentences and paragraphs several times because of their beauty. Berg is an expert on pinpointing and exploring universal feelings and fears.

I can't help but think WoW! this is what writing is all about. This is what we writers try to do--are supposed to do--in our books and stories--evoke emotions of all kinds, make our readers say wow. :)

Thank goodness I didn't read the Amazon reviews BEFORE I bought and read Home Safe. Many of them were negative. Several readers stated they couldn't identify with quirky main character Helen Ames. I have to ask ... must we ALWAYS identify with the main character? Can't we just learn from Helen, enjoy her quirkiness, watch her struggle, grow, stumble, change?

I did identify with Helen Ames. Home Safe made me explore my relationship with my own daughter. Helen's mother was as head-strong and as private a person as my own. I knew exactly how Helen felt, way too often. Yeah, she had some annoying traits as we ALL do but her introspection and the run-on dialogue she had with herself was spot-on. I'm constantly talking to myself--in my mind. Worrying. Wondering. Questioning. Observing. One long run-on sentence.

And her writer's block, her fear of being alone, her inability to do things around the house that her husband used to do before his death, her love for her daughter (and fear for her) ... this is real. VERY real. I can't imagine anyone not absolutely loving this book. Every loose thread was tied up in a satisfactory way. (I'm convinced part of our world's problems is because we fail to/are unable to put ourself in another's place.)

What talent Elizabeth Berg has for describing the quirkiness of human nature. She's truly a gifted writer. Probably a poet at heart.

I intend to investigate other books by Elizabeth Berg. I can only hope they're half as wonderful as Home Safe.

And when it gets cold here in Louisiana, a gray rainy day, I'm going to start a fire and lose myself once again in Home Safe. This is the kind of book one can read over and over again. I can't wait to discover those delicious little tidbits that I missed this go-around. I know there will be many.
This book is a keeper.


Charles Gramlich said...

Great review. I will definitely have to check this one out. I love that kind of read.

Jess said...

Thanks, Charles. It sure would be interesting to get a man's take on this book.

Jan Rider Newman said...

Another title for my list. You made it sound like a must-read.

christa said...

I haven't read this one, but she's been one of my favs for years. I just finished OPEN HOUSE by her. Great.

Carole said...

I cannot wait to read it. Sounds like a book to not only feel and think emotionally, it sounds like a book I could learn ways to write so the reader feels the emotions I feel.