A short while ago I started following a fascinating blog movement started by Alexa Clark, the genius behind the "Cheap Eats" series of books that profiles great restaurants in various cities (like Toronto and Ottawa) where you can get a decent meal without breaking your pocket book. It works this way. Books are offered out on the MiniBookExpo blog, bloggers claim them, get them, read them then post a review. Or, for full details, read the full rules here. The following is a review from a book I claimed:
Cricket in a Fist - by Naomi K. Lewis
I was quite intrigued by the premise of this first novel, which first caught my eye because it was part of a really cool promotion for Canadian literary titles called Fiery First Fiction in which various first novels by Canadians were being featured in bookstores across the country.
And Cricket in a Fist by Naomi K. Lewis is definitely worthy of being part of this promotion. It's a first novel that deserves to be read, shared and talked about.
The basic story begins with two daughters, one in her twenties and the other thirteen years old, attempting to come to terms with the manor in which their mother abandoned their family to become a self-help guru not long after suffering from amnesia during an accident involving a head injury.
Under a new identify, their mother preaches "willing amnesia" to the world while the girls try to sort out the truth of their own past, their mother's past, and slowly unravel the tangled web of truth from amidst the family's long history of secrets.
Some of the longer buried family secrets involve the girls' grandmother's and great-grandmother's survival through the Holocaust -- and many of the elements unraveled throughout the story lead back to a kind of "willing amnesia" needed in order to survive such events and which is a common thread throughout many family members.
This is a good novel with likable protagonists and told mostly through three major points of view. At first, I was bothered by all of the jumping around that occurred in the novel (both the jumping from present to past, to past-past as well as the ping-ponging points of view covered -- there are at least two other "voices" in which the story are told through, bringing it to a slightly confusing five voice tapestry). But as the novel was coming to its intriguing close, I was fascinated at how Lewis brought all elements and twisted story lines together in a way that ultimate paid off in the end and resulted in a satisfying ending.
You can read more about the author in a Q&A on the Fiery First Fiction blog here. And be sure to check out the publisher's page for the book here: Goose Lane Editions. Cricket in a Fist is available online as well as in finer bookstores everyway (such as my own store - Titles Bookstore McMaster University)
Do yourself a favour and check it out.