Sunday, August 31, 2014

BOOK: Road Ends by Mary Lawson

Road Ends by Mary Lawson, 311 pages

review copy from Random House Canada

I loved Crow Lake  and couldn`t wait to read Mary Lawson`s latest book. (Why I haven`t read her other book, The Other Side of the Bridge, is a good question. Must get on that.)

There are as many things to love about Road Ends as there were in Crow Lake. At the end of Road Ends, some of the characters from Crow Lake appear, and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed Crow Lake again. Actually, one of the characters was a minor character at the diner and I didn`t even realize it.

Simple story, complex characters, a family drama.  A family of boys with one girl, and distant unengaged parents struggling to get by, when finally the girl has enough and manages to leave. A tragedy in the town throws the eldest son into a tailspin and he is unable to put his university education to any use. The father struggles with his memories of his childhood while dreaming of travelling instead of being a bank manager. They are as stuck as you can be in a snow drift in Northern Ontario.

The characters are so real, so imperfect but not ridiculously so. Just normal everyday struggles with responsibility and duty and love. There is a good dose of depression running around the town, but Northern Ontario, late 1960s: life was tough for everyone. Mary Lawson lets us look through the curtains at this one family, and they are compelling.

Her writing is so easy, so clear with atmosphere, and pacing. I liked that the three main characters (father, son and daughter) each took turns narrating the story and we got to see their viewpoint. The timeline also flipped back and forth which kept me very engaged. And hopeful.