Sunday, August 17, 2008


WITHOUT A BACKWARD GLANCE by Kate Vietch was read for the Just4theHelluvit Challenge.

From the back of the book:

On a stifling Christmas Eve in 1967, the lives of the McDonald children - Deborah, Robert, James, and Meredith - changed forever. Their mother, Rosemarie, told them she was running out to buy some lights for the tree. She never came back. The children were left with their father, and a gnawing question: Why had their mother abandoned them?

Over the years, the four siblings have become practiced in concealing their pain, remaining close into adulthood, and forming their own families. But long-closed wounds are reopened when a chance encounter brings James face-to-face with Rosemarie after nearly forty years. Secrets that each sibling has locked away come to light as they struggle to come to terms with their mother's reappearance, while at the same time their beloved father is progressing into dementia. Veitch's family portrait reveals the joys and sorrows, the complexity and ambiguity of family life, and poignantly probes what it means to love and what it means to leave.

I just don't know about this book. I liked the premise of the book - how would an adult react to finding a parent who left so many years ago. But I don't think I agree with the author on how the adult children would react.

Without giving away too much of the book, I don't believe an adult would be as understanding and forgiving. I could see a younger person - possibly into their 20's - being more open to a renewed relationship, but not someone in their late 40's who has had time to move on without the missing parent.

I did like the different characters in the book - most of them. I didn't like the older daughter, Deborah, at all. But I think she was written to be an unlikeable character. The other 3 siblings had problems, but were able to work through them and become better people.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I just didn't agree with the author's viewpoint.


Lynne said...

Mary - I'd say yes. Like I said, I enjoyed it, just didn't completely agree with her viewpoint. I thought it was an interesting book.

CosmoKramer said...

I too read the book and enjoyed it. While working full-time and have two small chilren, I rarely have much time to read these days so I was appreciative that this was an enjoyable quick easy read. I do agree with your comments, however I enjoyed the character or Deborah...I hoped she'd have a happy endiing. However, I felt like I was left haning with the last page. I literally just finished reading the book and felt I needed to google it, which is how I came across your blog. I'm interested in reading what your take is about the last sentence..."His parents talked about him, and dreamed, but no one knew him at all."

Lynne said...

CosmoKramer - The last sentence? I think all expectant parents think and dream about what their child will be like, what he'll look like, what kind of temperament he'll have, what he'll grow up to be. But children have a way of being what they're destined to be, of living their own lives, of doing what they want to do, apart from their parents' dreams.

No matter what you picture your child to be and to become, they will be their own person - which may be miles away from what you had thought. We never really know our children.

kate veitch said...

From the author - Lynne, that is such a beautiful answer to CosmoKramer's thoughtful query about the last sentence. And exactly what I had in mind when I wrote it and placed it there! It is perhaps even clearer in the context of the Australian title of the novel, LISTEN, which reflects my belief that the only way we can even partially get to know ANYONE - our children, siblings, friends, spouses, even ourselves - is by paying great attention to all aspects of them - by LISTENING with our hearts and minds and bodies. The characters in my novel have given rise to so much interesting debate, agreement and disagreement among readers -- and this makes me as their creator very satisfied! If any reader wants to find out more, they might like to check my website (There's also an email link if you'd like to contact me, including to have me particpate in your book club's discussion.
Thanks for your interest in my novel!