Sunday, July 3, 2016

Eh...I really wanted to like it

Okay friends, this is my first negative book review...which is new for me.  I received They Left Us Everything, a memoir by Plum Johnson, for review by Netgalley and Penguin Books Putnam Publishers.  It is due out on the 16th of July.  I really wanted to like it, but honestly I was underwhelmed.
The memoir is about the author and her three younger brothers going through their parents things once they've passed away.  Their parents had a very grand old house in Oakville, Ontario that is too large and expensive for anyone in the family to they are forced to sort through the belongings and put the house on the market.  This takes much longer than anticipated, so the author moves in and slowly tries to come to terms with the relationship between her and her mother.

The book begins with the divying up of the large pieces of furniture in the house, and all four siblings vying for their favorite items.  It is a loving event, and they all end up with what they wanted...the things most important to them.  The deceased parents lived a very fascinating life, traveling and living in numerous locations, and seem to have kept everything accumulated during that time.

The story moves from that to Plum reading through her mother's letters, which she'd kept in binders, telling her own mother about her life.  I found this to be the most interesting part.  Her mother's time overseas during the war was extremely entertaining.  I kind-of wish Plum's mother would've written a memoir! It ends with the eventual sale of the house to a family who renovate old homes...and the writer starts her normal life back up again.

Try as I might, I just could not get into this book.  The author writes in a very poetic style, with lovely language and imagery...I can't find fault in that.  I realize it is a memoir, and one following her parents death at that, but in my opinion it lacked cohesion, rather jumping from a beautiful sunrise to making her mother's old eggnog recipe without any real connection.

There are many great reviews for the book over on Goodreads, so maybe it's just me.  I have always been enamored with the idea of going through someone's things and discovering their life and past this book should've been perfect for me.  But instead I just couldn't get into it, and it left me with a meh sort of feeling.  I do like the author's idea that instead of getting rid of most everything so your family doesn't have to deal with it upon your death, keeping it so your children can get to know the you they may have not seen before.  As a military family we have paired down so much, my children will have very little to go through after my death...unless I become a pack rat in my old age (which I seriously doubt will happen).  We don't have the sort of roots that accumulate when you have lived in one area for decades.  But maybe that will come with retirement. Guess we'll see.

In short, I don't know that I'd rush to purchase this one on publication.  But then maybe the other reviewers saw something I didn't?

Have you ever been excited by a book, and then disappointed that it didn't deliver?  Any thoughts on whether you should purge before old age, or leave things behind for your children to discover?  Let me know.  Now I'm off to a 4th of July BBQ and my continued "Where's Waldo" search for my girl on various Academy internet sites.  Have a great holiday weekend!

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