Well, I am back from vacation and need to get caught up on several reviews. The Tournament of Books completed the first round while I was out of town and my brackets are shot. In today's match up, The Tiger's Wife goes up against 1Q84. Here is the link from Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10491037-the-tiger-s-wife
And here is my review:
There are a lot of good books out there. Some books are really good stories - easy reads, enjoyable. There are books that just don't appeal to you - you wondered why so many other people liked them. How did they get published? Then there are books that take a grip of your and reek havoc into your placid life. For me, The Tiger's Wife was the latter.
Even thought the book had received many high reviews from others, The Tiger's Wife just did not appeal to me. The only reason I added it to my to-read pile was due to my obsession with the Tournament of Books. So this weekend while the rain fell and I recovered from my mysterious disease (preventing me from traveling to Florida for a bike ride) I begrudgingly started reading The Tiger's Wife. I am oh so glad I did.
The book is primarily about a young doctor, Natalia, her grandfather and his death. As she reconciles his passing she remembers stories he tells her throughout their relationship. The story itself is many layered. I immediately was drawn to the book just because of grandfather/granddaughter interaction, but as I read and was drawn into the story I noticed small tidbits or seeds of information like a bread crumbs keeping you from getting lost in a forest. These crumbs were only one element as to why this book was just so fantastic. Suddenly all of my senses were awake to remember how each breadcrumb as it was found related to the earlier ones. I am still in awe what I had in my hands after each crumb was found and relished.
However, what haunts me now was the way Tea Obreht, at a young twenty-something, was able to touch me emotionally. The way she presents the relationship between granddaughter/grandfather takes my breath away. Using their relationship, she was able to allow me to reflect on the relationship I had with my grandfather. Obreht did not just sugar coat the relationship but included the more difficult years of maturity - the dreaded teenaged years. Oh, how wonderful it is to have that unconditional love knowing later that you were a horror to be around, yet the grandparent did not give up and waited for you to come back. She shows the silent reconciliation and the steadfastness of the love and respect the two had for each other. I just hope one day my grandson can think of me in this same light.
I would recommend the book just on the basis of its intricate story telling. Not everyone will appreciate the relationship between granddaughter/grandfather, but most will enjoy the great story. I will definitely read it again and will read the next book that Obreht writes. It is now the book I will pull for to win The Tournament of Books.