Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home Safe

Book Review - Home Safe
Elizabeth Berg

This was my first foray into audio books. I listen to “This American Life,” and “Grammar Girl” podcasts, but an entire book is a completely different arena.

Right now, it’s summer vacation for my kids, so I have a silent car ride to and from work. It’s nice. I can listen to whatever I want. I decided to give an audio book a try. This was one read by the author and was eight hours long.

There are definitely some adjustments to audio verses print. First of all, it takes me a while sometimes to get character names down. I often spend the first couple of chapters flipping back and forth until I get everyone nailed down. Then, at one point, she said a word I’d never heard of. What was the word? I’ll never know. If I saw it in print, I could have looked it up. Or maybe I do know that word, but never heard it pronounced. Regardless, a minute after she said it I forgot it, and I’m driving, so it’s not like I can write it down.

This was the story of a woman (Helen) who lost her husband when she was 59 years old. Helen is a writer who lives a somewhat sheltered, though satisfying, life. Prior to her husband’s passing, she would have had few complaints about her life and her future. His death not only forces her to look at what kind of person she wants to be now, but to also look back honestly at her past and her marriage.

Helen finds out, after his death, that her husband spent most of their retirement money; only at first she doesn’t know what he spent it on. The reader (or in this case, the listener) will find out. This book does tie up quite neatly, maybe a little too much so, but it was a nice story.

As someone who has not reached that age yet, it was interesting to see the mother and adult daughter relationship unfold. It was also disturbing to put yourself in Helen’s situation. To suddenly be without your spouse and your children are grown…you can feel Helen’s loneliness.

However, her character was quite as needy as the author wanted you to think. She was a successful author who went on book tours and taught classes. She had ventured more than her own back yard. She also wasn’t quite the overbearing mother either. To have her daughter be so upset because she’d buy her a sweater seemed to more illustrate that the daughter was a spoiled brat than that Helen was an overbearing mother.

This was a fun, light read that I enjoyed. I’m not sure I would read another book by this author, but the descriptions of Helen and the other writers she encounters, were the most vibrant portion of the book.

No comments: