8 April 2008

Book Review: Take A Look At Me Now by Anita Notaro

"Most of us can remember a defining moment in our lives. A split second when time stood still and our lives changed forever. For Lily Ormond, that moment came late one night when she answered a knock on the door and discovered that while she'd been smashing garlic and rosemary and watching the soaps, her sister Alison had drowned.

Coming to terms with losing her only sibling and best friend was devastating, becoming a mother overnight to Ali's three-year-old son Charlie was mind-boggling, but discovering that her identical twin had been leading a secret life for years was almost Lily's undoing...

And so begins a journey linked with four men who'd been part of a life she hadn't even known existed. A journey that forces Lily to come to terms with a father who'd never really cared for her, a child who needs her too much and a sister who wasn't what she seemed."

What made this book so interesting for me was the way it was written. Each chapter has the name of a character at the top which indicates who that chapter focuses on. Chapters for Lily are written in the first person, and chapters for all of the other characters are written in the third person, making it easy to distinguish which type of story we are reading about.

The other characters are William and Beth, a middle-aged couple who have 2 children. William used to be a client of Alison's and now decided he wants Lily as well. James and Tamsin (James is another former client) are going through a struggle to have a baby and Alison's death means major changes for them. Richard (yes, another former client) and his model fiance Daisy are soon to be married but will Alison's death change Richard's perspective? And Dave and Marie seem to live separate lives, will Dave stay faithful to his wife after Alison's death?

As you can see, there are quite a few characters in the book, but don't let this fact make you think that the book might be hard to read. Notaro introduces all of the characters very well, making them all very different people from different walks of life who all visited Alison for different reasons. Each one of the characters weaves into the story very easily, and it is clever how Lily forms different relationships with them all, seemingly unaware about the link that the men had with her sister.

One thing I disliked about this book was the relationship between Lily and Charlie, her sister's son. Charlie doesn't live with Lily after Alison's death, but all she does is speak about how badly she misses him and wants him. Yet the scenes with the 2 of them are few and far between, and in my mind Lily doesn't seem to be doing enough to get Charlie with her, especially as he is the last link she has left to her sister. It seemed to me as I was reading that perhaps Notaro finds it easier to write about the relationships between adults, and not so much between children and adults, which is a shame. In my opinion this is what brings the book down from 5 stars to 4, because I simply couldn't away from my thoughts about this particular area of the book.

Other than that flaw, I found the book was a wonderful read. You were really transported into Wicklow and Lily's life, and her struggle to follow her dreams after the loss of her sister. The multi-character story-telling made for a good reading experience, and allowed the story to flow well, as well as allowing us a detailed look at each character in turn. I really enjoyed the book, and I think it is definitely my favourite Anita Notaro read so far. 

Rating: 4/5

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