Whitehorse by Katherine Sutcliffe
SOA Listening Challenge 2012: Contemporary 1/4
3.5* rounded up for goodreads
(4.5* narration by Kate Reading-- my first book by this narrator)
This is a difficult book for me to rate. For much of the story, I was uncomfortable with the actions of both lead characters. I was also frustrated by their lack of communication. As the story unfolds, you understand the characters better, and even sympathize, but both Whitehorse and Leah are very flawed and stubborn individuals and not always likeable.
Johnny Whitehorse, as introduced in the beginning of the book, is selfish and opportunistic. His relationship with Delores is self-serving (for both) and put me off. The entire restaurant scene with Delores and Johnny, and Leah and her date is weird and unsettling. And I guess that's the watch-word for the entire book: it's unsettling.
<spoiler>Fairly early in the book Leah tells her son's live-in caretaker about her father the Senator, and how terrible he was to Johnny's father, yet every time Johnny brings up Leah's father, she defends him completely, giving no ground,. This happens even after we see how the Senator treats Leah and her son. This goes on waaaay too long in the book and drove me crazy. Leah was again going to give up Johnny out of misplaced loyalty to a man who treated her like dirt.</spoiler>
Sutcliffe gets on a few soap boxes during the novel, mostly about the plight of Native Americans and the needs of children with cerebral palsy. The monologues are informative and even moving, but feel forced.
My last complain is the abrupt ending of the book. I'm not a big epilogue fan, but there is absolutely no denouement after the final climatic scene.
On the plus side, the writing is excellent, and the author does an marvelous job giving the reader a sense of time and place. The descriptions were detailed without being wordy, drawing the reader into the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions. The main characters, while not always likeable, are very real, flaws and all. Some of the best scenes in the book are between Leah and her son--very beautifully done.
I have a feeling this is a book that will stay with me long after it's over.