Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.

By Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

I recently watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which took place during and after the events of September 11, 2001. The movie accessed the post-9/11 fears, sadness and anxiety through the eyes of a young boy.  "The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D," by Nichole Bernier, also takes place around this time period. Nichole Bernier voices similar feelings through Kate, giving readers the feeling that this period of history happened just yesterday.

After a deadly plane crash (one month prior to the plane crashes on September 11), Kate learns that her friend Elizabeth, one of the fatalities of the crash, left all her journals to her in her will. She brings these journals with her on her family's annual beach vacation, much to the dismay of Elizabeth's husband. While reading them, she learns things about Elizabeth that she never heard about in person. As she tries to fit the Elizabeth of the journals with the friend she thought she knew so well, she learns about herself, and her roles as wife and mother, in the process.

Nichole Bernier has produced a powerful debut novel. It is subtle enough not to hit readers over the head, but it packs a pretty punch. Through Kate and Elizabeth, she expresses worries and fears that most women have felt at one point in their life. A word that comes up a lot is "paralyzed." As a mother of kids close in age to the kids in this story, I could relate even more...especially to how Kate was feeling. Most things are out of our control and Nichole did a great job of expressing this notion and sharing the emotions and anxieties that go along with it through Kate's point of view. While it sounded like Elizabeth had a rough life, I had a harder time accessing her emotions because a lot of her journal entries were just summarized, as if they were part of a montage scene in a movie. She also had a stoic feel to her journals, even when she was experiencing an intense hardship. Her journal was definitely interesting, but the fact that parts were deliberately left out made me as clueless a Kate must have felt at times. Also, the journal slipped into dialogue, which is something I'd prefer journals not to do. However, it wasn't as much as I've read in journals from other novels. I liked that Nichole addressed the tug of war between being a working mother or staying at home to raise the kids. The thoughts expressed on this topic were close to how I've felt at times, but in a different direction.

I really liked the use of detail throughout the story. Elizabeth may be the artist in the story, but Nichole Bernier paints a vivid picture of a sleepy New England beach town in the middle of the summer. Each descriptive word was like a brush stroke on the canvas of my mind. I could easily picture every place the women have been, and not just during the beach scenes. Adding to this mix was that the dialogue was genuine and the children actually sounded like children. The only thing I wouldn't have minded less of was the psychobabble. Sometimes there was too much "wordiness" to muddle through and I'd have to read paragraphs several times to understand what was being said. It felt like reading a psychological journal during those times.

Overall, "The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D" was beautifully written and incredibly heartfelt. I wanted to drink all of it in at one sitting, but lacked the time to do so. However, I looked forward to the times when I'd have a break to catch up with more of the story. It was intriguing and unforgettable.

Thanks to Random House for the book in exchange for an honest review, as well as a give away copy for a lucky reader anywhere in the world!

How to win "The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D":
Since I was able to relate to this story a lot....and it's still music month...please share a song that really speaks to you, or that you can relate to a lot. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

Giveaway ends July 29th at midnight EST

42 comments:

Janine K said...

I love the old song "You're my best friend" as that is what my husband of almost 36 years (next month!) is to me! Jkkimberley@bigpond.com

Anonymous said...

Total Eclipse of the Heart ~ once upon a time I was falling in love, now I'm only falling apart....

s.harris27@ntlworld.com

Sophie Bristow Harris on Facebook.

Kimberley Dian said...

There is an old Christian song...'Friends are Friends Forever'. Occasionally I will hear it on a lite rock station and it always reminds me of the friends in my life...the one's from my past who are now apart of it through social media... and those who are in my day to day life now.

I love the basis of this book and really want to read it! It sounds like a fabulous read!

kimberley2229@yahoo.com

Unknown said...

"Old Friends" sung by various Artists and James Taylor"s "You've gotta friend..all you have to do is call..
reminds me of my friends every time I hear the songs sung.Those in the past and current friends are priceless.
I love the plot in this book. It begs us to ask:Do you really know someone?
I hope for the chance to read this. I would like to discover the writings in the journal along with the character. It could prepare me in a similar type of way about my friends and loved ones.
Cyndee Thomas
cyndee.thomas0@gmail.com

Dolly said...

An old Trivis Tritt song, 'Can I Trust You With My Heart' - it was played at both our wedding, and at my husband's funeral. I can't listen to it with dry eyes.

jcsites2002 at hotmail dot com

susieqlaw said...

In Your Eyes

sendsusanmail @ gmail DOT com

Margie Durham said...

The song that really means a lot to me right now is called Blessings. I have two wonderful daughters, their two guys and a grand baby and grand dog and my husband. Such a full family. They are all blessings.


opeopinions(at)gmail(dot)com

cupcake said...

"Tunnel of Love" by Bruce Springsteen. It's Bruce, you know? And he is wonderful.

cupcake at nc.rr.com

Cher B said...

"Bring on the Dancing Horses" by Echo and the Bunnymen has been on frequent play for me recently, probably because I've been thinking about my past (misspent youth) and the way things develop. Looking forward to reading 'The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D', thanks for the chance to win!
cherbasonATgmailDOTcom

Jennifer said...

Thank you for Loving Me -- Bon Jovi. It was our wedding song and we just celebrated our 5th Wedding anniversary yesterday ~

jlm915@gmail(dot)com

Stephanie said...

Let Go by Frou Frou


Skk5@aol.com

Lisamarie said...

I'm Alive and Well... Kenny Chesney

Mary said...

To Where You Are by Josh Groban makes me think of my dad.

mryward(at)yahoo(dot)com

Jessica said...

I guess I would say the song "Half of my Heart" by John Mayer.

Thanks so much!

-Jessica M
walkingcorpse11@hotmail.com

StereoQueenBee said...

Anything by Chicago for many reasons!

queenofcrunk at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

Tapestry by Carole King

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

For some reason the song Stay by Lisa Loeb immediately popped in my head. It spoke to me more when I was younger, but when I hear it I still feel those same feelings!

This books sounds really good! I loved Incredibly Close and Extremely Loud.

missamberljohnson at gmail dot com

marybelle said...

'I Wanna Be Your Everything' by Keith Urban just speaks to me.

"The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D" looks amazing.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Nova said...

sparkle40175(at)hotmail(dot)com

books sounds intriguing.

'Learn to Live'by Darius Rucker

Kristen said...

When I was in high school, "Push" by Matchbox 20 was that song for me!

kly(dot)327(at)gmail.com

Linda said...

"To Where you are" by Josh Groban came out very shortly after my dad died and then his "You're Still You" came out soon after my best friend died.

tcheer4life@yahoo.com

@tcheer4life on Twitter

Erin said...

In My Life by The Beatles

erins826 at gmail dot com

Margaret said...

What a Feeling by Irene Cara(Flashdance theme) I loved that song and always could understand that feeling but related to singing, music and dancing not just danceing.

Margaret
singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

Anita Yancey said...

For me it would have to be Live For Today by the Grass Roots. I would love to read this book. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Anonymous said...

.thanks for sharing

Isabella Louise Anderson said...

"God Gave Me You" by Blake Shelton. I reminds me how blessed I am to have amazing people in my life!

ila@chicklitgoddess.com

Raven said...

"Kissing You" by Des'ree, from the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack. It is extremely passionate, heartfelt, and heartbreaking. It reminds me of my high school sweetheart.

The Unfinished Work is going to be a must read for me- I have told my best friend several times that she receives all my journals when I die, so this is interesting to me right off the bat!

raven.leck@gmail.com

Libby F. said...

"Dreams" by the Cranberries :)

Libby Ferda: libbylea12@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

It would have to be "Someone Like You" by Adele because the lyrics speak to me and I just shake and sniffle and the tears well up when I hear it and I let emotion take over. And I am a guy! Michael enquirescontests at hotmail com

Cynthia said...

"Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon because I think of the day my very unexpected and beautiful son was born. I had a lot of drama in my life when I became pregnant so soon after my daughter, and I had to fight for my baby. I was convinced it was another girl and was amazed that day when he came out and was truly my "Beautiful Boy"! He was so worth the drama and fight!

Ckip23@aol.com

bn100 said...

Firework by Katy Perry

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

Tine said...

Not only to me but to life itself. I think "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce is that song. We know time can't be saved and we know we will grow old but cherishing each moment is a way we can do to make these passing time worthwhile. And that's what I usually do. Carpe Diem.

Kim W. said...

Right now, the song "One & Only" by Adele gets me every single time I hear it. Beautiful song!!!

Read Baby Read said...

The Fighter by Bruno Mars. Amazing!
Mellsimons at gmail dot com

StephTheBookworm said...

"Crazy Girl" by Eli Young Band really resonates with mevat the moment. Reminds me of my boyfriend and I.

Stephaniet117@yahoo.com

Maureen said...

"Forever Young" by Rod Stewart speaks to the mom in me.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Jeryl M. said...

I always relate to the songs You by Jim Brickman and Destiny by Jim Brickman.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Kathleen Breaux said...

One Fine Day, originally by The Chiffons, but I love the version by Natalie Merchant from the film by the same title.

mep said...

I don't even love this song, but it's the ONLY one that's been in my head for a week now -- "Call Me Maybe."

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D has been on my TBR list for a couple weeks now. I'd love to win.

mep AT nottobrag DOT net

I follow CLC on Twitter (I'm @nottobrag)

Heather said...

I can relate to the song "Separate Lives" from the White Nights soundtrack. Love it!

goweezie AT aol DOT com

Melissa said...

Thanks for your participation! Random.org chose Mary (mryward). Congrats!

Mary said...

Thanks so much!