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Showing 1-10 of 301 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 443 reviews
on October 7, 2015
Two women, one road and how a brief, tragic encounter alters the lives of so many. Meet Isabelle and April, each running away from their current lives by surreptitiously embarking on an adventure that, hopefully, will bring them the happiness they’re looking for. Fatefully, one doesn’t get to her destination. Where was she going and why was her sudden departure such a shock to her husband? How do those who are left behind and weighted with the chore of moving forward, create some semblance of a normal life with what remains? What ensues when unlikely paths cross? How does one reconcile the “if onlys”? Caroline Leavitt’s “Pictures of You” is filled with secrets, poignant moments, regrets, but, most importantly, love and hope. You will be compelled to turn the next page to find the answers to those questions and so many more. And you’ll ask yourself, “What would I do?” Cozy up, grab your favorite hot beverage on a crisp autumn day and immerse yourself in Caroline’s wonderful novel, “Pictures of You”.
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on December 8, 2015
What I liked about the book was the love that was depicted. The first time I read it I was angry with Charlie but the second time I understood. I am discussing this book at my Bookclub in two weeks, I think it will be an interesting discussion.
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on September 26, 2015
Have you ever left work and the next thing you knew you were pulling into your driveway? They call it road hypnosis. I think life can be like that, too, and this story reinforces it. Every day we make big and little decisions, not realizing where we are going to end up. In this book two women make a decision on the same day that leads their paths to cross with devastating and life-altering results.
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on May 4, 2012
We all have certain expectations of our spouses. In the best scenarios, we picture loving each other robustly, tenderly and forever. In those pictures we raise marvelous children, and journey through life's adventures with our best friends. `When we are not so busy' or `when the children are grown' we'll have time to sort out all the nagging relationship issues. Unless the sand in the hourglass runs out before we get that chance.

In "Pictures of You," two women's lives intersect in a tragic auto accident. April dies when Isabelle swerves into her on an unfamiliar road in the fog. Isabelle, a photographer, is haunted by what she has done, even though she is cleared of any wrongdoing. She can't forgive herself, so she doesn't really blame anyone else in the community for ostracizing her; even welcomes being left alone. The fact of her husband's infidelity has taken a back seat to her guilt.

The little boy, Sam, who survived the accident, has lost his mother and a grieving husband, Charlie, doesn't understand why his wife, April, would have been on that road with their son at that time of day. Secrets are revealed about April that astound her husband. He no longer knows the woman with whom he shared his life. Charlie is helpless to comfort his son, ineffective in dealing with so many `after death' issues. How many of us would be any better at it?

What follows is the tragic tale of three people aching for love; raw emotions and devastating truths revealed as they find a way to heal. No plot spoiler here, but photography plays an important role in the storyline.

Sam is so well written, with always age appropriate vocabulary, that the reader completely understands when he feels responsible for his mother's death. Sam mistakes Isabelle for an angel and with his nine-year-old logic, mixes reality with his desperate wish to see his mother again. Leavitt creates a world in which the reader wants to hold this little boy, take away his heartache.

In an effective subplot, Isabelle suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which Leavitt depicts with insightful clarity. Isabelle shakes uncontrollably, sweats and feels nauseous when she sets foot in a car after the accident and for months afterward, must walk or ride a bike to go anywhere. Having been in a terrible car accident myself many years ago, I sympathized with the realistically intense stress the woman was going through, cringed at the nightmares she experienced. Leavitt herself, has an acute fear of being in cars, so brings considerable, painful authenticity to the reading experience.

We tend to dismiss the importance of the small choices we make in life - not kissing a loved one goodbye or taking the time to listen when we're running behind schedule - until it's too late to get a do-over. We look back after a disaster and think: if only I had been a better dad, a better son, a better wife. If only I had stayed, or been there, or did what she/he asked. Everything would have been different. If only.

Beautifully written, exquisitely shared.
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VINE VOICEon April 7, 2011
Like capturing the world through the lens of a camera, the author shows us bits and pieces of the characters. We catch a glimpse here, with some shadowing; then we see something illuminated; and finally, when we see the whole, it is transformed. But then again, we see the focus shifting.

In this extraordinary and mesmerizing tale, we first meet the women whose lives intersect tragically on a foggy night on the Cape, three hours from their homes. Coincidentally, the two women have been living in the same town, but like ships passing in the night, haven't connected. Then, out of nowhere, the driver of one car (Isabelle) comes upon another car stopped in the middle of the road, and the impact is unavoidable.

April, the other driver, dies, but her son Sam lives. But the mystery that brought each of these women to that place continues throughout the story, and how Isabelle's "survivor guilt" motivates some of her behavior in the upcoming weeks is the thread that continues to connect these characters.

What happens when Isabelle finally meets Sam and Charlie (April's husband)? Why does Sam feel the need to maintain the connection with Isabelle? How does Isabelle's photography cement the bonds between her and Sam? What effect do these connections have on the three of them? Will the events of one fateful night tie them together forever, or will the circumstances that follow sever those ties inexplicably? And will Charlie finally learn where April was going on that foggy night?

In the final pages, surprising twists saved this story from any kind of predictability, and just when I thought I knew how it would end, I discovered how wrong I was. Throughout Pictures of You, I could almost feel a paranormal influence in some of the events. A nice segue that turned this tale into something unique and almost spiritual. Five stars.
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on August 2, 2012
One foggy day, about three hours from Cape Cod, two women's cars collide on the road. Both appear to be running away from their marriages. April dies in the crash, while Isabelle survives, and is left not only to pick up the pieces of her life in the town she had wanted to escape, but becomes entangled with April's devastated husband, Charlie, and their young son, Sam, who is riddled with guilt about the accident. Charlie can't understand why April wanted to leave, and what she was doing on that road far from home, Sam wants nothing more than to talk to or see his mother one last time, and Isabelle is torn between again wanting to escape and wanting to stay to take care of Charlie and Sam, despite her role in their misery. And as their lives unfold, they realize the impact of every decision, and how sometimes the "best" decision isn't always the right one.

Pictures of You had moments of heartbreaking poignancy and moments when I wanted to shake each one of the characters into action, and both contributed to my enjoyment of the book. No character was drawn to be flawless; at times I sympathized with each of them, and at times I wished someone would just tell them to get a grip. The book definitely exceeded my expectations and surprised me in a number of ways, and that made me happy. And while I am, admittedly, a total sap, it was Caroline Leavitt's well-written story, combined with the emotional power it packs, that kept me reading this book well into the night in order to finish it. Very well done.
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on July 3, 2011
Wow! I think this may be the best word to sum up this wonderfully emotional story of individuals brought together by the darkest tragedy. Caroline Leavitt is the master of "show don't tell," weaving a tale of secrecy, regret, and ultimately one of acceptance for the paths life chooses FOR us. It's a story of love and all its complexity: between child and mother, between husband and wife, between man and woman.

But it's much, much more than that. The multiple points of view between characters serve to strengthen this novel, showing us just how unique our individual interpretations of events can be. Ultimately, the book makes us wonder just how well we know the thoughts of those whom we love - how well we know those people ... if we really know them at all.

This book is filled with beautiful writing - imagery so crisp and tantalizing you can taste, touch, smell and feel the surroundings. It is also filled with sorrow so palpable you can feel it in your gut. Yet it's not overly sentimentalized. It's pure realism, pulling you through the story from page to page. The topics are heavy, but the plot is engrossing. I recommend this book to anyone who wants depth of characters and a twisting, turning plot filled with suspense, even at the root of its character-driven core.
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on May 3, 2012
When I pull my next read off the shelf, I am looking for a story. A story that will capture me, make me care about the characters and what is happening to them. I don't look at how a book is written, if it would be considered 'literature' as opposed to 'fiction. It's the story. This book has a really good story. The cast of charcters is small which makes it easier to let the story flow on, not wondering - And who was this person again? Two women, fleeing marriages, meet in a deadly car crash. One woman's son is there but shouldn't have been. Then it's everyone trying to pick up the pieces and move on. There are a lot of questions, mostly from the widower as to why his wife was leaving him with their young, asthmatic son. The answers come slowly, layer by layer. I found it very easy to care about these people getting their answers. That being said, I think there was some editing that could have been done. It took a long time to get to the reveal of the secrets, the mystery. All in all, this was a good story. A nice surprise since so many books that are hyped, darlings of the book clubs, don't at all live up to that hype. I enjoyed this story.
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VINE VOICEon March 21, 2011
Caroline Leavitt is a new author for me -- I decided to read "Pictures of You" after reading the positive reviews on amazon and in Bookmarks Magazine and was not disappointed. Ms Leavitt has a knack for creating characters who are fully realized and stay with you after you have finished reading, even though all the questions you have about them are not answered. We see April, the runaway wife killed in the opening chapters of the book, through the eyes of her husband, her son, and, near the end, another character, and yet never really get the whole story of why she packed her suitcase and fled, to end up dead on a foggy country road. On many levels the end of April's story is still a mystery even when we know the "facts."

Isabelle, the woman who accidently struck and killed April in the fog, was also running away, but we understand her flight -- her unfaithful older husband has impregnated his mistress, and the barren Isabelle cannot stand to live another second on Cape Cod. Leavitt does a masterful job of depicting Isabelle's grief and guilt over taking the life of another person, even though she knows it was an accident. Her chance encounter with Sam, April's young son, changes her mind about leaving Cape Cod. She connects with Sam through photography, her passion as well as her career, and his raw native talent helps him through a difficult time -- although neither Isabelle or Charlie, Sam's father, know the real reason the young boy feels such a connection to Isabelle.

Leavitt deftly handles two of the core questions of the book -- can Charlie and Isabelle have a future together given what happened to April. Would it be possible for either one to deal with her death and still find happiness together? Why was April leaving a man and boy she adored? Is that important to the future of all three survivors and if and when they find the truth, will it set them free? Does knowing why something happened truly make it easier, especially when it resulted in a death? The author's use of photographs as a means to discover hidden meanings in people and in life is interesting and not overused. Even the minor characters in the book, especially Isabelle's husband and the boy who bullies Sam, are rounded and not cliche creations. I highly recommend this novel.
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on May 4, 2013
The main protagonist, April, a budding photographer, is fed up with her life and expectations and, leaving her home and son behind, attempts to flee to some more promising life. As she drives her escape route she encounters heavy, blinding fog. Though she saw the other car moments before she hit she hasn't time to avoid it. She crashes into the other automobile, stopped, sideways in the middle of the road. The crash killis the other driver, Isabelle, who, as it turns out, is another unhappy wife from her own town also escaping her unhappy marriage. At the moment of the collision she discovers that her son who had hidden in the back seat and scarcely saves him from the flames of the accident. While the accident is not her fault she becomes tortured with guilt because Isabelle was killed. I'm finding it hard to remember all the nuances of the growing relationship April had with Isabelle's husband and son but I know it was a heart-warming denouement. I liked it so well I brought it from the archive so my wife could read it on her Kindle.
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