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Pictures of You Paperback
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.