A Simple Thing - Kathleen McCleary
When Susannah Delaney discovers her young son is being bullied and her adolescent daughter is spinning out of control, she moves them to remote, rustic Sounder Island to live for a year. A simple island existence—with no computers or electricity and only a one-room schoolhouse—is just what her over scheduled East Coast kids need to learn what’s really important in life. But the move threatens her marriage to the man she’s loved since childhood, and her very sense of self.
For Betty Pavalak, who moved to Sounder to save her own troubled marriage, the island has been a haven for fifty years. But Betty also knows the guilt of living with choices made long ago and actions that cannot be undone. The unlikely friendship between Susannah and Betty ignites a journey of self-discovery for both women and brings them both home to what they love most. A Simple Thing moves beyond friendship, children, and marriages to look deeply into what it means to love and forgive—yourself.
First off, you can tell a lot of heart went into this book. I really love reading a book that obviously had a lot of love, care, and thought put into it because it just makes it that much better.
The book bounces back and forth between Susannah who is pretty much having a mid life crisis once her daughter hits a rough teenage rebellion patch and her son turns out to be kind of an oddball, bully target. Instead of coming together with her husband Matt to figure out a plan for them to move forward as a family, Susannah packs up her and her kids and moves them to Sounder Island temporarily and leaves Matt at home. Then we have Betty who is a really complicated yet simple character (yes, she's both) and we learn about her past and early years of her marriage and how that morphed into her present day widow status. The two women come together and they both learn something about each other, about love, about family, and what's really important.
The book also touches on when a tragic loss or event can shape a person's life and the decisions they make with their own children. Admittedly, I don't understand how people can't put things into perspective and move on from them. I've had some pretty crap things happen to me my whole life but I've always been able to look at them, know my role, and make future decisions trying to improve on things. But Susannah effectively ignores her children and puts blinders on to everything except for the worst of the worst. A lot of her family issues wouldn't be issues if she stopped trying to control everything and be the perfect mom to everyone else... and focused on her children and what they need from her.
I will have to say- I really loved the ending. I felt like every character got the closure that they needed, story lines were wrapped up nicely and everything comes full circle. I have to say though that my favorite part of the book is Betty's story and Barefoot, another islander. What a great story with an ending that I have my own take on. But it's a really good book that is a fast read and it might make you think about what would you do if you were in Susannah's shoes.
Kathleen has a website, Twitter and Facebook that you can check out. Another cool thing is that Kathleen will be talking about A Simple Thing on Book Club Girl on Air on August 21 at 7pm Eastern. So hurry up and read the book so you can call in and ask her questions about her book and listen to the discussion!