In time for the holidays... a book review!
A Watershed Year by Susan Schoenberger
Months after the funeral of her best friend Harlan, Lucy McVie continues to be haunted by what was left unsaid between them when she receives the first of Harlan’s emails, arranged to be sent after his death. So begins Lucy’s watershed year — a year in which she travels to Russia to adopt a young boy and starts a new relationship that takes her by surprise, all the while learning about how Harlan truly felt when he was alive.
Before I get into my review I will tell you that I liked the book. Is this a book I would grab off my shelf and re-read? Probably not, but mostly because I feel like I understood all aspects of the book enough that re-reading it wouldn't help me understand anything any better.
I kind of loved Harlan's character and wished he had more time in the book. I realized he dies almost right away and that is what kicks off the rest of the novel, but I felt like he could have been used more, if that makes sense. I also really respected his outlook on life and impending death. Sure, he could have continued with treatment but only to gain what, another couple of years? Are you really going to accomplish everything in those couple of years? Is it fair to just prolong the process of death for those around you and even yourself? I don't know and perhaps I would feel differently if it were me in those shoes. But his outlook on life and death was refreshing and real to me.
Lucy kind of annoyed me though. I'm kind of a hard ass when it comes to things and I have very little time for the people who feel like their world is over when someone dies. I get she was in love with Harlan but come ON. Get a grip on life you Debbie Downer. That's pretty much what I would say to Lucy if she were a real person. But then she goes through the process of adopting a little boy from Russia for what I feel to be wholly selfish reasons and that irked me too. Yay for adopting a little boy but is it fair to the boy if he's going to a home with someone who decided on a whim to adopt him? Kind of seems terrible to me.
But one line in the book I absolutely loved because it really is true: "It was more like resolve, a determination to go through the motions of parenthood until, on day, she would stop remembering what it was like to be a nonparent and embrace what parenting seemed to be: experimental treatment that might or might not work, the results too far in the future to know." How perfect is that? That is probably the best description of parenting I have ever heard. You just do what you think is right and hope that it works and your kid doesn't grow up to be a serial killer. I figure if you can keep your child out of jail you've done something right at least.
So overall, it was a good book. You can tell some logical thought was put into the process because the plot moved along at just the right speed, all of the necessary road bumps you expect are there, and yet you are left satisfied at the end. It would make a really great gift for the reader on your list.
You know I don't ask you just to rely on what I say, so please check out the other tour stops for this novel!