This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia
Release date: 2010 / 350 pages
First line: “Amy considered the postcard: a boardwalk scene.”
Synopsis (from back cover): “When Arthur Rook learns that his vital, creative wife, Amy, has been killed in an accident, he realizes to his horror that he has no idea what her last wishes would have been. Blindsided by the sudden loss and delirious with grief, he flees his home and job in Los Angeles, guided only by a pink shoebox full of Amy’s keepsakes.”
Review: Often when I sit down to write a review, I try to think of one adjective that best describes what I have jsut read. In this case, one adjective was simply not enough as they crowded and jostled each other on to the page. This novel is strange, dense, deep, sad, beautiful, and bizarre. Every character but one is sympathetic and likeable, and the one who is neither is only present for 4 pages — yet influences the next 346 pages intimately, unknowingly, irresponsibly, uncaringly.
However, the other characters in the novel are so wholly likeable — and so original and unforgettable. The perspective shifts between them, which works very well, fortunately, since the “plot” is only as strong and interesting as the characters. And the author, Racculia, allows her readers intimate knowledge of each character, too. This would be a lovely novel for a writing class focused on how to create living, breathing souls out of ink and paper. Racculia does this so well, it’s almost disorienting. How can these people not really be out in the world?
And, since this novel represents “real life” so well, there is pain and heartbreak, and joy and hope, and mortality and fear — in just the right amounts. I was sad to see the characters go, but a bit exhausted from caring so deeply about Mona, and Arthur, and Oneida, and Wendy… and by how “real” everyone and everything was, too. However, I mostly loved the ending — even though it highlighted an implausible plot device in the novel. But even this possible flaw was forgiven since the characters accepted it so well and allowed the reader to do so as well.
Sound interesting? Feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll choose a winner by the weekend!