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A Scattered Life is the kind of novel you’ll want to recommend to a friend without quite knowing how: as soon as you begin to say what the book is "about," all of the possible descriptions seem either too small or too big for the story contained in those pages.
You might say, "It’s about friendship and family dynamics and the unexpected ways our actions influence the trajectories of other people’s lives." Or "It’s about a woman who’s doing her best to make the life she has into the life she wants to live." And it’s your 7th grade book report on The Red Pony all over again: your description isn’t inaccurate, but it doesn’t come close to conveying the book’s gravity and substance, the particular pleasure you get from immersing yourself in this novel, as opposed to any other.
So you might try getting more specific: "Okay, the main character is a woman named Skyla Plinka. She’s married and lives in the suburbs and has a little girl, and her life is all very ordered and predictable, which she likes, because her childhood was tough and she’s always craved stability. She clashes a little bit with her mother-in-law, Audrey, who has different ideas about how a wife and mother should run her home and who would like to be more involved in her life than Skyla is comfortable with. But then a new family moves in next door, and Skyla strikes up a friendship with her new neighbor Roxanne, who’s brash and charismatic and has five kids and just loves living in the kind of messy chaos that they create..." And you realize you’ve gone too far in the other direction, zooming in on the details of an individual tree, while ignoring the vastness and beauty of the forest.
So here’s how I’m going to recommend A Scattered Life: From the very first sentence--"Skyla’s earliest memory of Thomas was linked with the smell of beer and the taste of blood"--Karen McQuestion had me right where she wanted me. Right away, I was there with Skyla, curious about who she was and what choices she’d made, and ready to live her life for a while, instead of my own.
McQuestion has a talent for creating characters who are layered and subtle, flawed and ordinary and exceptional, in the way we all are. The book alternates between the viewpoints of the three women--Skyla, Roxanne and Audrey--and their incomplete and refracted perspectives come together to form a narrative that’s fuller and more complex than the story any one of them might tell on her own.
McQuestion writes with a sharp eye and a sure voice, and as a reader, I was willing to go wherever she wanted to take me. After I finished the book, I thought about how I might describe it to a friend, and I settled on a phrase that says a lot without saying very much at all. It’s the way these conversations usually end: "You should read this. It’s good." --Carolyn Parkhurst
There are twists that kept me reading well past my bedtime...I was sad when the book ended.
There is something simplistic about her characters, which made them seem like basic stereotypes right away, and that's boring.
Well written, good character development...descriptive writing...you can relate to the characters.
Such a great book on different kinds of relationships! Loved every moment of it. Quick read, read it in 4 days!Published 3 days ago by Wendy Robinson
So many life lessons are learned in this book. The judgmental in all of us is shown just how wrong we can be when we don't open our hearts to all around us.Published 3 days ago by S. S. Davis
Conflict is essential. This reminds me of a Hallmark Hall of boredom story, only more boring. I have no idea why I continued reading, it was obvious that it was going nowhere:... Read morePublished 5 days ago by V. James Lamphear
Great book by Karen. She's such a good writer in the way she brings her characters into your home and lives. Sad ending, wow!! Read morePublished 5 days ago by Dani B.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Parts made me laugh out loud, because I am a mother of five and because my husband insisted on adopting a St Dane who gets his penis in the... Read morePublished 7 days ago by A. HERBERT
I enjoyed this story; if you enjoy tales of dealing with dysfunction, you will, too.Published 8 days ago by susan dana kennedy
Well written,easy to read. Lovely characters. LOVE the relationship of Roxanne and Skyla. Made me think of my own best friend relationships.Published 17 days ago by Amy McCarthy
A true story of friendship and love this book was entertaining. S slow at times it would be hard for someone not to find a sympathetic character.Published 23 days ago by Varae