Customer Reviews: Between Here and April
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Showing 1-10 of 31 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
VINE VOICEon September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This novel describes what happens as the protagonist, Elizabeth Burns, becomes fascinated with understanding the story behind the death years ago of her best friend from first grade, April. As the story progresses, we discover, bit by bit, the story of April's mother, Adelaide, that ultimately makes clear the desperation and hopelessness that can lead some women to commit the ultimate betrayal.

Kogan's first novel is well written and captivating. I stayed up far later than I should one night to finish it. However, there were certain aspects of the plot that prevented it from being a truly great novel. Elizabeth remembers WAY too many details of the conversation and setting of encounters she had back in first grade to be plausible. Interviews with people from Adelaide's past conveniently divulge realms of right-on- target information. A trip to Adelaide's psychiatrist produces written transcripts from a handful of therapy sessions that just happen to include, implausibly early in the therapeutic process, a group session including April, that just happens to yield all sorts of valuable insights. Finally, before Elizabeth even has the chance to visit Adelaide's widowed husband, he writes HER a letter asking her to drop her project--out of respect for his privacy--but which then goes on for several pages blabbing all sorts of intimate details about their marriage.

I am guessing that women will like this book much more than men, because there isn't a likable man in the entire novel. Elizabeth's husband is so awful (working until 11:00 pm literally just about every night, and neglecting Elizabeth completely unless it is to request kinky S&M sex) that he is almost a caricature. My major criticism of the novel, in fact, is that it appears to portray women as relatively submissive beings held emotional hostage to the whims of their men... up until the point they take fate in their own hands in a last desperate and tragic act.

Flaws notwithstanding, I recommend the novel because it will grip your attention and get you thinking. Kogan does an excellent job in struggling to render a sympathetic portrait of women who commit monstrous acts, and for that she is to be commended. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.
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on April 29, 2013
A chilling and heart-wrenching tale that I believe any female can relate to, a must-read page turner in my opinion. Well written and complete, I would recommend this book by Deborah Copaken Kogan to anyone.
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VINE VOICEon November 18, 2013
The protagonist, Elizabeth burns becomes driven by the death of her childhood friend, April. She and April were first graders in the 1972-73 school year and April vanishes from the face of the earth on October 22, 1972. Nobody answers Elizabeth's questions about her missing in action friend and 35 years later in 2007, she uncovers the truth and is determined to keep digging.

April and her sister Lily's mother, Adele sounds like someone who is suffering from clinical depression. In fact, she is not too different from Elizabeth's own mother, a woman who sounded as if she suffered from bipolar in addition to post partum. At the story's opening with April, Elizabeth was the oldest of 5 children, the younger 4 siblings toddlers under 4 in 1972.

Elizabeth suffers from blackouts and is married to Mark, who likes bondage, including using handcuffs on her. He is not without his own set of problems. Elizabeth claims that he is married to his computer, "pouring hours of data into her," as she describes him. They have 2 daughters, Daisy, 8 and Tess, 6. The girls are the same ages as Lily and April were in 1972. The parallel will haunt Elizabeth throughout this story.

While Mark has his way with bondage which sounds sadistic, Elizabeth hooks up with a former flame. The flame is a man named Renzo who worked with her on her journalism career just before her first child was born. As she gets drawn deeper into the fate of her childhood friend, her adulthood friend Renzo takes her back to a place and time when they were on very intimate terms.

The women in the story were quite likable, as other reviewers on the U.S. boards have noted whereas the majority of male characters were not. Elizabeth's psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Rivers helps her discover the taproot of her obsession with April's tragic fate and the parallel between her friend's life with her own. Elizabeth's father was a silent partner and more or less remained in the background. Adele, Lily and April's mother was married to a brutal man. She was consumed with depression and makes some very drastic decisions. Whle she commits a singularly heinous act, she somehow remains a sympathetic character, a tragic figure.

A few date inconsistencies jump out at the reader. For example, Adele reportedly listened to the Carpenters' "Top of the World" in the fall of 1972 when she and her children spent their last day together. That is impossible as that song was not released until nearly one year later in the early fall of 1973!

This is a very taut and captivating novel. Once you start reading, you will stay with this book until you reach the conclusion, which is set in 2009, 2 years after the story commences. You will see a very interesting parade of characters and learn what makes them "tick," so to speak. I would highly recommend this book. It is good chick lit with a cutting edge.
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on April 19, 2013
I'm not sure this is a book that I'll necessarily put on my list of all-time favorites, but I enjoyed reading it and found it to be interesting and attention-getting. There were not any big surprises or cliff-hangers, but I felt the author did a nice job of exploring the detailed feelings and motivations of the characters.
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on September 24, 2008
This book is built around Elizabeth's search to find the truth about what happened to April, her first grade friend who disappeared from school one day. At the time, Elizabeth couldn't get an explanation from her teacher, and her mother was too busy with a new baby and her own issues to really notice that Elizabeth's friend was gone. The truth of what happened isn't too hard for Elizabeth to find out as an adult. After all, when a mother kills herself and her two daughters, there are newspapers articles, which Elizabeth is easily able to find. But it turns out that her search is really to know the unknowable: why did April's mother do this seemingly unthinkable thing?

On a quest to try to answer this question, Elizabeth confronts issues of postpartum depression, especially in the early 1970s, before it was recognized as a treatable condition, and the common prescription of Valium to help women who were depressed, whether it actually benefited them or not. Although Kogan gets a bit heavy-handed on these subjects, her characters are well-drawn and believable.
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on November 20, 2013
In the end, I can actually say this is a very good book. Somewhere in the middle I got a bit "board" with this book but I am so glad I continued on. It is definitely worth your time to read it. I am a mother of 2 myself and I can relate to the protagonist in this story, as I am sure MOST mothers can/will.
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Deborah Kogan's novel, "Between Here and April" is a multi-generational answer to the question "what makes a good mother?" Kogan's main character, Elizabeth Burns, is a busy wife and mother-of-two daughters, who is also a television producer. After a fainting incident while attending a production of "Medea", she remembers the disappearance of a childhood friend, who she subsequently finds out was murdered by her mother, along with an older sister. This information sets off doubts about her relationships with her own mother and with her two young daughters. There are some attendant issues with her own husband and a former boyfriend who pops up on the scene.

Kogan's book is well-written, but often strays from her central point of mothers, daughters, post-partum problems, and suicide. It could use some judicious editing. But I enjoyed it and thought about the issues she raises.
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on December 5, 2013
I thought this was a great book. I would give it 4.5 stars if I could. The character development is good and it says alot about the era that the main character grow up in, how she was raised, the way she became the way she is because of her upbringing, the way that mothers and females were viewed during the time in history. I thought it was a really good book.
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VINE VOICEon March 4, 2011
When I started reading this book, I thought it was going to be more of a mystery. The main character began talking about this childhood friend, April, who disappeared in the 1st grade and she never knew what actually happened to her. It sounded like we were going to unravel the story which in a way she did but it ended up being more of about her and their intertwining lives. I know I would never have chosen this book if I really knew how dark it was but once I was in it, I couldn't put it down. I kept thinking we might find out something really interesting about April and her mother, Adele. But there never was any tremendous insight into their lives other than a discussion of postpartum depression and the dark places it can lead you. I remember reading "She's Come Undone" which was another very dark book but I really enjoyed it because it had redemption in it. I didn't find that in this book. It was just plain dark and frankly, depressing for me. I believe she was right on some things she disclosed on motherhood, it's not always all it's cracked up to be but it certainly is not the darkness portrayed in this book. Or maybe I just connected with some of disappointments with motherhood I have experienced now that my children are grown. I'm not sure but I did appreciate somethings and some I found myself asking, "Why am I reading this book"? I think it is well written and thought provoking and probably good for a discussion group. Be prepared though, it is dark and you will need some light from time to time to get through it.
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VINE VOICEon January 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was immediately sucked into this book. BH&A reads like a memoir. Kogan speaks of a sensitive issue so passionately & non-judgementally that it is hard to believe this is a work of fiction. I read this in one day. Touching, thought-provoking, and sometimes a bit difficult to swallow--just like life--yet easy to read, for you want to know the outcome. I will definately be checking out Kogan's memoir "Shutterbabe."
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