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The Moon Over Lake Elmo Paperback – July 1, 2001

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling thriller writer Thayer changes gears this time out with a semi-autobiographical novel about three generations of one family. If there is an undertone of therapeutic exercise in this book, it is because that is how the novel came about. As the author explains in an epilogue a letter to Thayer's deceased father he was told to write a letter to his dead father to help overcome a bout of depression. Instead, Thayer wrote from his home in Lake Elmo, Minn., to a fictional, biracial daughter named Angela who "began writing back" from Los Angeles. Along with his letters and Angela's diary entries, Thayer spliced in edited excerpts from his father's diary; the compiled assemblage forms the book. While there is a fair amount of dialogue and plot development in the various missives, the author is hemmed in by the format. Letters and diaries do not allow for the kind of rich narrative and vivid character interactions that we have come to expect from Thayer, who in earlier works has shown himself to be an accomplished storyteller. The contrivance of the format keeps the characters and their viewpoints separate, resulting in an overall flatness to the unfolding story about a man who scarcely knew his father and abandoned his daughter. Occasional scenes involving the daughter's abusive grandmother and a chilling description of sickle cell anemia, which killed Angela's mother, are well constructed. Thayer does a decent job of capturing three distinct voices here the innocence of one who fought in WWII as he tries to understand the dissolution of his marriage; the tribulations of a baby boomer who has lost the love of his life; and an interracial pre-adolescent searching for her identity but one longs for a more compelling and thorough examination of their lives.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451203739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451203731
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Anderson on January 10, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little book is an artfully constructed account of family healing with three voices. A grandfther's diary, a father's letters and his young daughter's diary bring together a story of love and reconnection. This is a quick read and worth the time spent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Unknown on January 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not what I was expecting based on previous Steven Thayer books I've read. When I read a book I want to read a book not people's diaries. VERY DISAPPOINTED - I stopped reading after about a quarter of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Shaw on January 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
The diary style used in this book is not new. Other good books have been diaries and the relationship between the three main characters gives the reader something to think about. Several reviewers mentioned problems with the shift in times and characters but that is the way real life is. We all experience memories and thoughts of the future while experiencing the present. Steve Thayer helps the reader out by using different fonts for each character. This is a short novel that weaves the stories of three lives and how they intertwine. It also raises issues that are of importance. It is hard to tell a good story in 150 pages, but this author does it. As for missing details, I feel that is for the reader to fill in. A willingness to create a relationship with this novel rather than to simply read the words is a key part of the experience. The author invites the reader to think and connect the dots. I liked that!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rafael Torrealba on April 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
Moon Over Lake Elmo is a novel that you have to read very carefully to fully appreciate it's contents. The book is not written in a sequence of events or narrated, it is composed of letters written from the main character to his daughter and of journal entries varying in dates from the 1950's to the 1990's. I think Steve Thayer does a good job of portraying an American family and all the problems they go through in fairly good detail. Millions of Americans come from broken homes as divorce is no longer as uncommon as it was in past times, so many readers can relate to these types of problems with relative ease. The fact that the book is written out of journal entries & letters gives the reader a very personal insight into what someone might go through in such a situation. It is a good read, in my opinion, and I would reccomend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cheri on June 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love everything by this author. If you are into the Minnesota and Wisconsin themed books and historical novels you will like this book.
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By Amy Glaser on August 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Lake Elmo is a place of solace for me, so when I saw this book, I had to pick it up. I live about 15 minutes from there and go walking and running at the Lake Elmo park reserve. The book struck a nerve in me because Steve's dad grew up in northern Wisconsin not too far from where I did, and I have always been fascinated with life during and post WWII. These diaries/letter were from three extremely different people, but yet, they were all so similar. The diaries talked of happy times in the past, the current dread they were going through, and the hope for a better future. Just to read some of those passages broke my heart. I wish my grandparents had kept a diary so I could know what they've been through. I did wish for more, though. I wanted to know more and more about these people, but there's only so much you can do with a journal. You can't go back and find out more if the person is dead. Anyway, a very good book, and if you live in St. Paul or are from NW Wisconsin, there are a lot of areas and landmarks mentioned!
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Format: Paperback
I agree with Publisher's Weekly review's opinion that the format of the book does not allow Steve Thayer to write in the more exciting way he usually does, but because it is made of letters & diary entries the reader enjoys a more intimate view of each character's feelings and thoughts. That alone, in my opionion, makes up for the relatively basic form of writing used in the book because the story is a very personal documentation of problems within a family, hence better insight is more valuable. I also agree that Thayer did an exceptional job of making some of the more dramatic scenes come to life, like the grandmother's beating of Angela, and the climax of the book when the father and daughter are reunited. While this book may not be a typical Steve Thayer "thriller", it certainly shows that he posesses a great deal of versatility as an author.
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By robert kemp on April 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Moon over lake elmo was a series of letters going through time and generations. Although placed sparatically throughout the book they told the story carefully and beautifully. It showed the difficulty with life. Surprisingly it didn't focus on the inter racial relationship too much. But it did show how violence and abuse can affect one's mind. Overall the book was very good.
I agree with the publisher's weekly's review. The book did lack details. But it made up with the realism that can come with using letters as a medium for communication. By reading these letters and journals we can get a sense of what these characters think. I like how this book was written.
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