Review: A Long Time Gone

a-long-time-gone“We Walker women were born screaming into this world, the beginning of a lifelong quest to find what would quiet us. But whatever drove us away was never stronger than the pull of what brought us back….”
When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she’d left, that’s exactly what happens—Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children.
What she hopes to find is solace with “Bootsie,” her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was.
But for Vivien things change in ways she cannot imagine when a violent storm reveals the remains of a long-dead woman buried near the Walker home, not far from the cypress swamp that is soon to give up its ghosts. Vivien knows there is now only one way to rediscover herself—by uncovering the secrets of her family and breaking the cycle of loss that has haunted her them for generations.” – Goodreads

When Vivien Walker arrives back in Indian Mound, Missisippi after a nine-year absence, all she can think of is the warmth and healing of her grandmother Bootsie’s arms. Instead she walks in on the aftermath of a vicious storm that has unearthed a long-buried body in the backyard of her childhood home, she discovers that Bootsie has passed away, and that her estranged mother, Carol Lynne, is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. This is not what Vivien was hoping for as she fled California and the wreckage of her life there: prescription drug addiction, a shattered marriage, and a step-daughter lost to her forever.

Thus begins A Long Time Gone by Karen White, a rich and captivating novel that is the perfect mixture of historical and contemporary fiction. This tale is bound together by the tightly woven threads of three generations of Walker women: Adelaide Walker in the 1920’s, Carol Lynne Walker in the 1960-90’s, and Vivien Walker in 2013. While Vivien’s tale is the heart of the story, Adelaide’s narrative is quite compelling and absolutely essential. Carol Lynne’s narrative, while providing some necessary background information, was the weakest link by far.

It’s definitely slow going at the beginning of this book, but once you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll find that you’ve become invested in this tale more than you’d realized. White’s big-as-life characters suck you in to their broken lives and don’t let go without a fight. A Long Time Gone is a tale of motherhood, loss, love, and forgiveness; yes, ultimately – most importantly – forgiveness. I urge you to step into this world and grow with Vivien as she spreads her broken wings and learns to fly once again.

A Long Time Gone by Karen White. Buy it, read it, love it.

4 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries

 

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