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Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review, While I Was Gone by Sue Miller



This women’s fiction book is well written. The main characters are Jo Becker who is a veterinarian, her husband, a Lutheran minister and a long-lost acquaintance, Eli Mayhew.

The theme of this story is that small things can divide strong marriages including those that have been solid for long periods. We fall into predictable patterns, a comfortable existence, and the danger is we may become bored. It doesn’t take much--a misspoken word, a spouse who is preoccupied spouse, or even meeting up with someone or something that makes us look back and long for something in our past.

All of these come into play in this story.

Jo Becker has radically changed from her free-wheeling days during the 60’s. She’s on her second marriage and is the mother of three grown daughters. But when she encounters Eli, one of the former boarders of a house she lived in with other young students, the past suddenly intersects.

Jo’s wild and rebellious side resurfaces when she thinks she has feelings for Eli. It is the case of forbidden fruit and she risks it all to meet up with this man. They both harbor the same dark secret from the past. Dana, one of the boarders in the house they shared, was murdered and the crime has gone unsolved for all these years.  

Sue Miller accurately describes static family life and the dynamics of strained mother-daughter relationships as well as sibling rivalry among children. Family gatherings can often bring out the best and worst and we see both. The scenes where her daughters are present including Cass, the black sheep,are real enough to make you squirm.

This book provides a strong warning about pining for something better. One misstep and we may lose everything we hold valuable. I give the four out of five stars. Be warned there is language and some sexually explicit sections.

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