Here Comes the Dreamer - Carole Giangrande
Alastair Luce is a dreamer, one of three who tell this tale. A Canadian expat in the 1950s, he lives in a New York City suburb with his wife, Nora, a passionate American who misses the excitement of wartime life and finds an outlet -- and a lover -- during the Red scare. Alastair's an artist, a quiet man who paints houses for a living, fears atomic holocaust, drinks too much and worries about his suffering child, Grace. Just before the accident that kills his daughter's best friend Todd, he offers a ride to their teenage neighbour, Claire Bernard. She continues the story as a witness to tragedy, a wry observer of suburban mores and a compassionate friend of Alastair, whose talent and politics she'd long admired. Yet in the era of Vietnam, she's not prepared for his love or his anguish as she marries and leaves for Canada. In Toronto, it's Alastair's exiled daughter Grace who speaks, giving voice to her fury, an artist who works to "burn" the city down with brilliant colour, who resents Claire for hurting her dad, and still grieves the loss of young Todd. Yet Grace, Claire and Alastair are bound together by their history, and a crisis draws their painful stories to a climax. It's then that Grace ventures homeward for the first time, into a startling vision of the unknown.
For such a small book (127 pages) there is a lot of story fit into it. Even more surprising was even though it was so short, I really had a hard time sticking with it. Normally I can power read through things and 130 pages in a sitting isn't unheard of. Instead, this book took me days to get through because at no point did I feel really emotionally invested in. Was it good? It was. But I found myself not caring much about what happens to these people.
Here Comes the Dreamer centers around three main characters: Nora, Alastair, and Grace. Grace is the child of Nora and Alastair and I felt absolutely terrible for her because it was clear her mother didn't like her. Mostly because she was too similar to Alastair and Nora was very pragmatic and based in reality. She steps outside of the marriage and it results in another child. What I found odd was that even though it was clear that Nora didn't even really care for Alastair, you can tell there was still something there towards her. But we also have Claire, who wants to be friends with Alastair (even though there is a HUGE age gap and it almost makes me reminiscent of K.L. Cook's The Girl From Charnelle) but that's hard to do after the accident that killed a little boy, who happened to be one of Grace's only friends. I guess for me, this sums up what happens when you have a family who don't focus on the child (Nora/Alastair) because Grace ends up... well she ends up kind of angry and trying to reconcile her mother's abuse and everything that essentially starts at the accident.
Honestly, the last third of the book was the best part because I felt like it was all really coming together. The first two thirds are good, but I felt like we were gathering all of this information, swirling around, and not really sure how it was going to end up- why was any of this essential information? I do think that if I had lived in the post Cold War era, I would have understood the sentiment behind some of the passages. I don't know what it's like to inherently distrust someone based on their belief. Sure, we have something similar now, but certainly not at all to the degree that this book highlights.
You can order the book through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It might even be a great gift (or stocking stuffer) for your parents or even Grandparents this year!