Published November 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: TLC Book Tours and the publisher
Young Harrison William Shepherd is living on Isla Pixol in Mexico when we are first introduced to him in Kingsolver's latest book, that follows Shepherd's diaries from 1929 to 1951. His mother, a selfish woman who never seems to think of the effects on her son, encourages Harrison to begin his first journal when they are living on Isla Pixol and listening to the howler monkeys in the trees at night.
"Their food might be us, mother and son agreed, when they huddled together inside the spiderweb of bedspread, listening to a rising tide of toothsome roars. You had better write all this in your notebook, she said, the story of what happened to us in Mexico. So when nothing is left of us but bones, someone will know where we went. She said to start this way: In the beginning were the aullaros, crying for our blood."
Harrison's mother had fled the U.S., leaving his father behind in order to begin an affair with a Mexican attache. But she hates it there and Harrison feels invisible to all the people around him with the exception of the home's cook, from whom he learns valuable life lessons. It's also on Isla Pixol that Harrison discovers the lacuna:
"Not a cave exactly but an opening, like a mouth, that swallows things."The image of the lacuna recurs throughout the book as Harrison begins his life journey traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico, never really at home in either. Along the way, Harrison finds himself immersed in the fiasco that was the Hoover administrations handling of the veterans living in a tent city in the middle of Washington D.C., working for Diego Rivera and involved as well with Frida Kahlo and Leo Trotsky, and esconced in Asheville, North Carolina as a writer of sweeping Mexican epics.
Shortly after I had finished Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible," Trish wrote me about this tour. I had my choice of a number of her previous titles in addition to this one. As much as I loved "The Poisonwood Bible," I was willing to read any of Kingsolver's books but was thrilled to have the chance to read this one. I went into it expecting to love it every bit as much.
Which, as it turns out, I did. Just in a different way. Where as "The Poisonwood Bible" pulled me in immediately with it's beautiful writing and amazing story but let me down some toward the end of the book, "The Lacuna" was a slower start for me but once I fell into it, I never felt a let up. Kingsolver's writing remains beautiful as ever and her knack for dispensing history lessons while telling a story is unparalleled. There is no doubt that Kingsolver has an opinion on the events that she's writing about but this book felt less preachy to me. The book is written as though it were the diaries of a real person, something I wasn't sure about when I started the book, but it worked for me.
I'm not prone to read a lot of books by the same author, which the except of Jane Austen, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. There are just too many great authors out there whose work I want to sample. But having now read two of Kingsolver's books, I can't imagine that I will not, at some point, feel the need to read more of her books. They are just that good.
Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour!