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Pictures of You Paperback – January 25, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

The Boston Globe describes Pictures of You “as part literary mystery, part domestic drama, and part psychological examination,” and, indeed, the novel kept most critics on their toes the entire time. A novel of loss, redemption, forgiveness, and self-discovery, the intertwining stories grapple not only with the tragedy but also with the mystery of April’s hasty departure from her family. Reviewers commented that what could have been a maudlin, predictable storyline instead becomes fresh with Leavitt’s direct, unsentimental writing; her you-are-here details; and her fully convincing characters. Readers who enjoy both fine storytelling and writing will be sure to savor this novel.

From Booklist

In Leavitt’s (Girls in Trouble, 2005) compelling new novel, a car crash provides the catalyst for an examination of how well we know the people we love. April and Isabelle, both fleeing their marriages, collide on a foggy, deserted stretch of road. Only Isabelle survives, and though blameless, she is haunted by guilt. In search of healing, she finds herself drawn to Charlie and Sam, April’s grief-stricken husband and son. Complicated relationships develop, and Leavitt thoughtfully handles friendship and romance in scenes of emotional resonance. She understands the ache of loss, the elusiveness of forgiveness, and the triteness of words like “closure.” An expert storyteller, Leavitt alternates perspective among her three leading characters, providing insight into the thoughts, secrets, and dreams that they withhold from each other. Whether these individuals will arrive at happiness separately or together is the question that drives the narrative, and the reader, forward as Leavitt teases suspense out of the greatest mystery of all—the workings of the human heart. --Patty Wetli

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565126319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126312
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (422 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #687,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Keener on January 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Caroline Leavitt's Pictures of You is a story of love--love lost, love wished for, love misunderstood. It's about grief, and regret and forgiveness. Most of all, her mastery lies in her ability to reveal the deep, hidden emotional life of her characters (young Sam, his father, their mother who dies in a car crash, and the woman who doesn't die in the crash). As a reader, you will feel privileged to witness their struggles, and will take these people on as your own. Beautifully rendered.
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130 of 147 people found the following review helpful By reader on December 4, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't want to give it away, but this is a absolute show-stopper of a novel with insights into the human condition that defy any attempts to put it down. i bought it for my Kindle i-Phone app and promptly spent the next six hours inhaling every word. my GOD. and you know how you slow down when a great read starts to come to an end. i did that. uh huh. love story, thriller, paranormal and yet relevant to our times, and it al seemed so effortless, as though i were watching a film. this masterful novel breaks your heart amd yet lifts you -- all told, it reminds me of a blend of Jodi Picoult, Stephen King and Elizabeth Berg, with a dash of what can only be termed Leavitt-y. funny, amazing, strange and beautiful, and now I see VANITY FAIR has named it as a hot read for Jan 2011. I'll say. I'm recommending this one to everyone I know who asks, "What should I read next?" LORD HAVE MERCY Caroline Leavitt is on fire and please, don't let anyone put her out, because I need to know what is next, like i need her next book RIGHT. NOW. POY is just delicious and powerfully told -- these were real people to me. the mystery kept on and on and yet never felt strained or obtuse. more, more, more, more.
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88 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Susan Henderson on December 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a deeply satisfying read that shows the many facets of love. Examining the survivors of a fatal car crash, Leavitt explores grief, guilt, secrets, and disappointments in a cast of sympathetic characters who become so entangled, it's not clear to anyone what decisions are the right ones to make. I highly recommend this book, which feels like an easy read and yet works profoundly on the soul.
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89 of 102 people found the following review helpful By K. Russell on January 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
I chose this book because of the Oprah review and the praise of other Amazon readers. But while I was intrigued in the beginning, I quickly became frustrated with the plot. That two women from the same town could be involved in an accident on a back road 3 hours away, is just too much of a coincidence. It bothered me that such an extraordinary coincidence was never really acknowledged in the book. (Why not just stage the accident on their way off the cape?) I thought the book was building toward some connection between the two women, but when that never came, it just became so far fetched for me. The characters were poorly developed and flat and every time they had a strong emotion, it was described in physical terms I could not relate to. There were sudden headaches or things knocking around in a character's chest to signify that something emotional was happening to them. ("Something in his heart clicked" stood out as particularly odd).

Sam is 9 and when he returns to school after his mother's death, he tells his father he doesn't need to go to the after school program, that his mother let him stay alone. In Massachusetts a 9 year old cannot be left home alone. It would be considered neglect. This concerned father doesn't know where his son with chronic asthma is after school? He doesn't know who his friends are? And while 9 is too young to be left unsupervised to roam the town as he does, it's a bit too old for believing that a woman is an angel and has wings rustling underneath her coat. I didn't believe that he would remember Isabelle so intensely 20 years later, or that at the age of 30 he would be written up as one of the best doctors in Boston, or that at 25 he had already lost a 40 yr old patient during childbirth.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Rain City Reader on August 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased the book for my Kindle based on a recommendation I found in Newsweek. I soon came to regret that I didn't get the free sample first! I usually like topics like loss and tragic events, but not in a style that is begging to be turned into the next Hallmark movie. Everything is trite and predictable, there is nothing new in this book and the events and emotions are described in a simplistic way and with a cheesy tone. The way the characters are developed and described made me not like them, not even the little boy. To compare this book with two books I absolutely loved, "ROOM" and "The Lovely Bones", "Pictures of you" comes acroos like high-school writing at best. The author doesn't expect any intelligence in the reader either, there is something in the writing - and I sensed that from other reader's reviews also - that almost makes you angry. There is absolutely no wisdom in this book, it seems that women's happiness comes from the love of a man and a child alone. People's feelings are very black and white and one-dimensional, either they "love someone very much", or they don't and then they leave. This book is basically an illustration of uneducated people with codependency issues. This would be OK if the author would ask the right questions and open the horizon of the reader, but I didn't see any of that. It just made me dislike the characters and I was asking my selfwhy I should read about them. In addition, nothing in the plot is plausible, which I can forgive easily if the writing is good, but in this book it just made me cringe. I had the hardest time finishing the book, and the only reason I did is to write this review.
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