Last summer I attended the Nashville book fest and they handed out pre-release paperbacks at one of the seminars. My friend was given this one and sent it along to me as a good read. I agree! It's the story of four people's lives intersecting in tragic and uplifting ways. Bashkim, a young Albanian trying to straddle his family life and a new life in Las Vegas; Avis, weathering a divorce while her son struggles after returning from Iraq; Luis, recovering from an injury and memories of his actions and Roberta, the social worker advocate trying to help.
First off, I was intrigued by the portrayal of Las Vegas as a boom town; I'd not thought of it in that way and it changed my perception of those who chose to live there. I was also pleased to see a 53 year old first time author have success.
I'm not a fan of the multiple story lines switching with each chapter that is so popular these days but I kept reading and overlooked it as the story deepened. One criticism I had was that the child's voice, Bashkim, who is about 8 or 9, is unconvincing. In fact, all four voices are not significantly different.
Some lines that resonated with me:
[when Avis, the divorcee, is deciding what to toss when moving] "If I don't save these things, I have lost something. It's not just that objects release memories, it's also that they keep them in check. ...If I just have this one life--if I made all these mistakes in it, felt all this joy and all this pain--I want to know what it was. I want to know what it really meant".
[Roberta] "..I'd rather live knowing I made a mistake than wondering if I could have made a difference if I'd tried."
[Avis] "Failing isn't proof that nothing matters or that we were fools to care. We fail even though things matter very much; it's the possibility of failure that makes them matter even more....It all matters....What is most beautiful is lease acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed."
A book well worth reading.
Published: 2014 Read: March 2015 Genre: Fiction