Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bound on Earth

My friend has been raving about this book and we did it for our book group last month (which I missed amid all our travels and sickness) so I picked up this book when I was in Utah and read it quickly. Apparently more quickly than I should have because I didn't quite catch the hype.

I did enjoy the book. Angela Hallstrom is a very descriptive writer and I enjoyed her use of words to create images and characters, but the format of the book felt very disconnected to me. Each chapter is a glimpse at the Palmer family at one point in time (the book covers decades). The chapters are often from the perspective of different members of the family and the chapters are not directly connected to each other. You do come to care for the characters in the book. They feel real, with real strengths and real weaknesses. Indeed I think the main focus of the book is that these people are real, they live in our world, and they are struggling for their family, something most of us can relate to.
***Read the comment by Laura, she says it so much better than I do.


Laura said...

I agree with you about the disconnectedness. If anything, I thought the book needed MORE. It need more pages with more details and more plot development adn more exploration of the central theme of being bound. What I thought was near revolutionary about the book was how unconscious it was. What I mean by that is that Hallstrom managed to write an LDS book about an LDS family that just told it like it was. She didn't try to sugarcoat it (like so many genre novels do) and she didn't try to tell the "gritty truth" (like so many literary LDS novels do). She simply shared LDS experiences without trying to control the reader's mind. And that is something that few LDS novels manage to do. It did feel unfinished to me, though. But I think that disconnectedness or unfinished-ness had an artistic intent. I think it was meant to point to how the things that bind us together as eternal families are not always clear or clean cut. There isn't any real end to those ties and a lot of the ties that pull us one way or another are tangential (hence the wandering chapter sequence). I do think Hallstrom could have done more to expound those ideas in her text, though. Whew! that was a long comment ;)

Sarah said...

As always, Laura, you have the words and understanding to say it right!
Thanks for you comment!