A Good Hard Look - At Life, Loss and Forgiveness

BlogHer Review

When I received the email offering the opportunity to review A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano, I read the summary and was intrigued, but ready to be disappointed. Lately, I've really had a hard time finding books that keep my interest for long, which is insane because there are a lot of good books out there. I've been hoping it's just a phase, but have been disappointed a lot lately.

When the book came in the mail, I opened it and admired the cover art. My Favorite colors in a beautiful peacock... hmm. After dinner, I sat on my back deck and dove in.

As I was reading the first chapter, I felt the characters come alive. I wanted to visit with them, I wanted to know how the story ended. I was intrigued. Over the next several days, I read every chance I had.

Ann Napolitano does a great job building the story, showing us the parts of her characters lives we need to see. I was intrigued to find out what bound these characters, why the writer chose these people to tell the story. And I could relate to them all, even though none of them were like me.

Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of Flannery O'Connor. People were discussing how excited they were that she was a character in this book, and I thought that she was a character from a previous story. After reading the book, I decided to do a little research on the author. I was surprised to find out that this was historical fiction using a real life person as a character. I usually am not a fan of historical anything... I like living in the here and now as much as possible.

I really enjoyed this book, and thought about what the author wanted us to learn from her story for days after completing the book. I believe that Ann Napolitano wanted us to think about our lives, and how we choose to live them. Themes of loss, mourning and forgiveness run throughout this book. I enjoyed thinking about how I would respond to the events compared to the way the characters responded, and ultimately, I felt like I knew these characters once the story was gone. I didn't necessarily like all of the characters, or the choices they made, but that is part of what made it real for me. I appreciated that Ann also required her characters to learn to forgive themselves, not just others.

I would definitely recommend this book to others and have added another author to my list of must-reads.

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