Thursday, April 30, 2009

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for Spring
by R. J. Keller

(CreateSpace / 1-440-46116-3 / 978-1-440-46116-3 / April 2008 / 480 pages / $14.95 / Kindle $3.19)

Reviewed by Celia Hayes for PODBRAM

Tess Dyer not only waits for spring, she is waiting for much else, in this leisurely novel which explores various aspects of contemporary family and parenthood, love and community, and the impact on them of addictions (of various sorts) and self-destructive behavior. Tess’s mood is as bleak, her emotions as frozen as winter in an isolated Maine community, to which she has fled following upon divorce, to try and build something of a new life for herself. There she finds friends – and lovers as well – most of whom have just as many problems as she does. She has not escaped life, in coming to a new place, renting her own apartment, taking up a new job, and developing a circle of new friends. She has just replaced all the old problems with new ones, but the novel also focuses on how she grew and came to deal with them, in slightly less self-punishing ways than previously.

The reasons behind Tess’ unhappiness, her divorce, and her dysfunctional childhood as well as much else about the demons that drive her are revealed at a deliberate pace, and with considerable skill. They are shown, or rather unfolded for the reader to discover, by Tess herself, a gritty, witty and seemingly tough survivor, who cleans homes and offices for a living and lives for art and love. Failing love, she has settled, over and over again, for sex and has enough self-knowledge to know there is something wrong, something unhealthy about that. Tess’s voice, and the characters of her friends and family that she sketches for the reader have considerable charm; otherwise this book might have seemed appropriate fodder for – if not Jerry Springer, then Oprah, at the very least. This book is told in first-person, which gives a very immediate feel to what Tess experiences and feels, but which also limits any exploration of how other characters react to her, save filtered through her own perceptions. Why do other characters in Tess’s world love and trust her? That question is scanted, but it is more a reflection on the way this story is told than any shortcoming of the author’s.

Editor’s Note: According to the authors’ website, proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to Spruce Run, a local organization which deals with domestic abuse.

See Also: The Author's Website
The Spruce Run Website
Celia's BNN Review
R. J. Keller's Blog
R. J. Keller's Authors Den Page

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