Someone (pipe up if it was you) reviewed this book on her blog, and then – as bloggers are wont to do – she offered the book as a giveaway. After reading her review, I thought this might be a book I wanted to read, so I commented and won. When the book arrived, I got pretty excited and moved it to the top of the TBR pile. I finished it last night, and I really enjoyed the book.
The basic story is of several people in the small southern town of Echo. These folks are all connected by blood or friendship, and they’re lives are – as all of ours are – irretrievably intertwined with each other’s. One day, on her birthday, Velma – the older woman who is the protagonist of the story – has a mysterious visitor – a man who appears out of a whirlwind. The man gives her a gift of a rock, but this is not just any rock – it’s a rock with the ability to move Velma through her own memories and, sometimes, to take other people to places they need to do as well. The novel follows Velma and her friends and family as they seek to move forward in their lives, with this rock as a guide and tool for them all.
The plot summary does not do this book justice (but I didn’t want to spoil anything for you) because it is full of supernatural wonder, mystery, great characters, painful scenes, and honest humanity. There’s nothing really big in the story – although the plot does drive the book along at a nice pace. Everything takes place in one small town; everyone is simply human; everything is just as life is – normal and not normal all in the same moment. But in the midst of all this simplicity, Jordan has written a story about the ways we, as human beings, make sense and peace out of lives – or the ways we choose not to do so.
Near the beginning of the book, Velma is carried in her memory back to a time when she and her husband, who is now deceased, were younger. Jordan writes:
The man whistled beneath his breath. She stepped behind him, trying not to breathe, trying not to make him fade away, fearing to touch him, but she thought she would die if she didn’t try. The man wasn’t just any man. It was her man. The old hunger was suddenly back, filling the space left in those last few inches between them.
For Velma, there was only this minute. Her legs standing strong, the sun hot and dry outside, her hand as it moved toward her husband’s right shoulder. She knew it was the end of the first summer they were married because she remembered a part of this moment. . . .
Then he turned and looked at her, was looking at her right now, and she was drowning in her man’s blue eyes. He studied her, her fingers at her lips, her eyes full of wonder and heat and promises, and he emptied his hands before he stepped forward. This, right now, is forever, she thought. This moment is forever and always. It is everything.
This scene brought tears to my eyes, not just because of the beautiful picture of love here but because of the reminder those last few lines bring – a sort of mantra or theme in the book. What we have is now, but what we have is also everything we have always had. We are humans who were gifted with memory, and so all the pain and glory of our lives is in us always – there is such power and beauty in that.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you are interested in the ways our stories shape our lives, if you appreciate southern fiction, or if you like stories about older women. But really, it’s a great read for anyone.
So I will pass on the blogger giveaway favor. If you’d like to read this book, let me know if a comment, and I will randomly choose a “winner” on Monday, the 24th.