Top critical review
323 people found this helpful
Whistling to Our Graves
on June 15, 2013
Most of the reviews of the book are overly harsh or overly praising. It's a pretty good book, and as some have complained, with sections that are a little drawn out and repetitive.
The criticism I think that is without merit is that the character isn't likable. The character is an accurate human portrait and if any of us were laid to bare the way this character honestly expresses her feelings and thoughts, I think we too would be less than likable.
Years ago I heard this woman explain an entire attitude of certain women as the ``smugly married." It's easy to look down your nose at her if you have all the adornments of female success, the most important of which is that someone has found you sexually desirable enough to marry you. And once you have children, the deal is sealed. You are woman, hear you roar!
But if you got overly fussy, maybe thought something better was coming, or there was a split or almost no suitors and the shadows grow long on the dock, you do sense that you will probably never marry and most certainly now, never have children. This is of course the reality for Nora, the now spinster school teacher, whose mother who loved her is dead and whose aging father needs her. Nora is the utility person. Life's bat boy. The filler of water bottles and cleaner of equipment but never gets to play the game. The center of no one's life but the agent of many lives. A person of talent unexpressed and un-honed which time will turn to mediocrity because it was simply never developed. A person so inconsequential that those she thinks are closest to her will humiliate her if it serves their own ends. And she's angry because now she knows all this with certainty.
Naturally, she has lied to herself about this truth. It's called coping. And this is where the writer I think advances beyond a lot of readers. We all lie to ourselves about some critical truth in our lives. Unless you have caught yourself in some lie on which your identity stands, and then have had some unexpected circumstance bring you right up against that lie so powerfully that it can literally knock you to your knees, you may simply lack the experience to fully appreciate this book. A lot of people don't like the book I think because most of us just keep whistling right to the grave.