written by Melanie Dugan
published by UpStart Press
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I enjoy this book: Yes, no, kind of. I’m not sure.
I’m deeply conflicted about writing a review on this book. First, I’ll say it was a well-written, thoughtful story. The characters were lovable and sympathetic. The scene and story idea were wonderfully original.
There were so many good components in this novel. Unfortunately for me, it missed one crucial element – passion. It was like the time I made a tuna casserole and forgot to add the tuna.
Early in the story, a young girl’s mother goes missing. We learn later that the father knew his wife left him and filed for divorce. They both thought it best to simply tell the girl nothing. Initially, everyone acted like Mom was coming back. Melissa, our young protagonist, has to figure it out on her own.
This plot is carried out too casually. There were a few scenes where Melissa fights back tears and wonders about her mom, but that was about it.
One exception came toward the end of the story when Melissa, as an adult, discovered the letters her mother mailed to her father years before. I won’t discuss precisely what happens, but it did break my heart and made me angry. Sadly, it was too little, too late.
Would I recommend it: Some readers may enjoy a really low-key story — maybe something to read before bed. It’d be okay for that. Otherwise I’d suggest checking it out of the library and reading the last two chapters.
About the book – from Goodreads: The spring Melissa (Lissy) Singer is eleven years old her mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer Lissy’s father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss.
About the author: Melanie Dugan is the author of Dead Beautiful (“the writing is gorgeous,” A Soul Unsung), Revising Romance, and Sometime Daughter.
Born in San Francisco, Dugan has lived in Boston, Toronto, and London, England, and has worked in almost every part of the book world: in libraries and bookstores, as a book reviewer; she was Associate Publisher at Quarry Press, where she also served as managing editor of Poetry Canada Review and Quarry Magazine. She has worked in journalism, as a freelancer, and as visual arts columnist. Dugan studied at the University of Toronto Writers Workshop and the Banff Centre for the Arts, and has a post-graduate degree in Creative Writing from Humber College. She has done numerous public readings.
Her short stories have been shortlisted for several awards. She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her partner and their two sons.