Friday, January 13, 2012

BOOK: Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen, 377 pages

Orange January (1998 Longlist); 2nds Challenge (Every Last One)

The first line of the book lets you know what this book is going to be about, "The first time my husband hit me I was nineteen years old." Francie Bennedetto has finally made the decision to leave her abusive husband, and is given a new life and name by a woman's network. Francie and her son relocate to Florida, but the specter of her New York City cop husband hangs over them. You know he will track them down. And the first part of this Orange nominated novel felt very predictable. I kept feeling like I had read this before. But at some point that fell away, and I enjoyed the book more than I originally expected.

Quindlen writes her characters very well, and Francie's evolution and growth felt natural. She protects her son, makes some new friends, and comes to terms with her decision. I can't imagine what it would be like, or how awful it must be, to live in fear. Francie was willing to give up her own family and job and name in order to protect her son and try to let him live a safer life.

This was an Oprah pick in 1998, and it feels like it. Empowering woman, rising above, taking your life back. There is a woman's fiction (whatever that might be!) feel to the book. Quindlen's care for her characters and unwillingness to write the spectacular dramatic ending, keeps this book from falling into Danielle Steele territory. The ending was good, even satisfying because I couldn't tell for sure how it would go, and it made sense, and wasn't completely happy. Like life can be.