Thursday, August 9, 2012
Miss Me When I'm Gone by Emily Arsenault (Giveaway Included)
Synopsis From Back Cover:
Gretchen Waters is most famous for her book Tammyland - a "honky-tonk Eat, Pray, Love," a memoir about her divorce and her admiration for Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. When Gretchen dies falling on a set of stone steps outside of a library, everyone thinks it was an accident or a botched mugging. Jamie, Gretchen's best friend from college, certainly has no reason to suspect foul play. That is, until she becomes Gretchen's literary executor. Gretchen's latest manuscript is much darker than Tammyland - ostensibly about her favorite classic male country singers, it's really about a murder in her family that haunted her childhood. From beyond the grave, Gretchen opens up a sinister new world through her writing, and suddenly, her death seems suspicious. And then Jamie finds herself in danger as well...
When I'm at a loss to how to start a review, I find it's easier if I just admit it up front. The few times I try and get around that fact, the review just doesn't seem to come out well, and I end up redoing it anyway. So let me start by saying I'm so stuck on this one that I feel as if my fingers are encased in molasses. I have no idea what I want to say, because I have no idea on what I feel towards this book. I don't want anyone to think that ambivalence means I didn't like it, because if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know I'm not shy about telling you that I didn't like something. I think I just had no reaction to it.
I really did want to like this book. As most of you know, I'm a huge mystery fan, which should mean that I end up liking books that fall into the "suspense" category as well. For the most part, that's proved true, but too often I end up not enjoying the book as much as I wanted. If that was my only interest in reading this one, I would just chalk it up to trying something knew that didn't work out. I would move on and let it go at that. But the other factor that hooked me on giving this one a go, was the country music angle. I adore classic country stars like Dolly Parton so I said yes before I really thought about it.
I'm afraid that it's the country sections of the book that almost killed this one for me. The story is told in the first person by Jamie as she reacts to her friends death and tries to fulfill the obligations she feels toward Gretchen. Over time I got to like Jamie and enjoyed the time I spent in her company. What threw me off was the way the author chose to insert Gretchen's voice into the narrative. From the beginning, we get glimpses of Gretchen through excerpts of Tammyland and from her new manuscript. I almost closed the book for good after the first two chapters because of it. I'm not normally patient with books that use journal entries, newspaper clippings, book pages, or letters to tell the story. I think Dracula is about the only book that I ever liked that uses that storytelling device. So when it's mixed in with first person narrative, it tends to really get on my nerves. It's hard to concentrate on the story when it's being told in such a jumpy manner. Dolly, Tammy, and Loretta where the only thing that saved those sections for me.
Where the book worked for me was in the present, and Jamie's attempt to finish Gretchen's book. What starts off as an attempt to fulfill an obligations she feels toward Gretchen, quickly turns into something more. By reading the manuscript and notes, listening to interview tapes, and talking to the interviewees themselves, Jamie begins to piece something together. Gretchen stumbled upon something she wasn't looking for, at least not right away. Jamie becomes immersed in Gretchen's search for her biological father and what happened to her mother all those years before. It's a journey that may have ended Gretchen's life and could possibly end Jamie's.
So while I may have liked the underlying story, I'm not a huge fan of the way it was told. I know I'll be in the minority on that one, and I'm okay with it. There are plenty of books out there that I love, but other's just don't connect with for one reason or another. After typing away for a good while, I wish I could tell you what I couldn't say in the first paragraph. I'm still not sure what I think of this book, I didn't like it, but I didn't dislike it either. I think it's a wash for me, and I'm okay with that too.
I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book. Please visit the tour page to read other reviews.
To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment with an email address so I can contact you if you are the winner. The giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only and will run until 11:59 pm on August 23rd, 2012. I will use random.org to pick the winner.