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The Why of Things: A Novel Hardcover – June 11, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
Upon arriving at their summer house, Eve Jacobs notices tire tracks cutting across the yard and ending at the edge of the huge water-filled quarry on the property. She also observes bubbles rising to the surface. The police tow trucks, paramedics and divers soon arrive, but by the time 27-year-old James Farvazza is pulled from the quarry, still inside his pick-up truck, he is dead. How and why Farvazza ends up in the quarry becomes a bit of an obsession for Eve; she tries to understand the event, suspects foul play, collects evidence, and eventually begins to see that coming to terms with Farvazza's death is a way of coming to terms with the death of her sister.
Meanwhile, other members of the Jacobs family are confronting the loss in their own ways. Anders finds an unexpected peace in a diving class, Eloise falls in love with a dog and worries about ghosts, and Joan has a few heart-wrenching encounters with Farvazza's own grieving mother.Read more ›
Ander's fears, Joan's unacknowledged grief, Eve's unexpressed anger and Eloise's sadness of the innocent are woven neatly through every page of this novel. The summer is the setting, the place is the magnificence of Cape Ann and the characters will come to life as they live the question, "Why".
Death creates a distancing between people. It isolates. Each dealing with what has happened in their own way. Grief. The lose of a child, a sister.
And then there is the mystery of the second death of the stranger. Eve convinces herself it might have been murder just as her sister's death was not and begins to investigate. While Joan questions how she is able to endure the loss of a child and holds the guilt of having taken that child for granted for too long. Anders, her husband, worries about his roses and the distance growing between himself and Joan. Eloise, the youngest child, fears the quarry is contaminated forever by the death of the stranger. But most of all they are at a loss as to why Sophie, the oldest child, has died.
Summer distractions fill their time. Anders takes the diving lessons Joan has given him as a gift. Eve finds a job working at a local greenhouse. Eloise goes to day camp and Joan begins writing her next book. Oh, and then there is the dog who mysteriously turns up on their property. Each dealing with the lose of Sophie.
"a single energy that inhabits all living things, an energy that is both fleeting and eternal; we each are given it only for a time before it passes on to give life to something else."
The why? "For the living, for those left behind, there is no answer that is good enough."
Very moving book which I throughly enjoyed and highly recommend. This one really makes you think. There truly is no answer to why.
Joan, the mother, is a published novelist. Her husband a college professor. Eve is fifteen and becomes immediately caught up in the what-ifs of this drowning. The other daughter, Eloise, is much younger.
The novel is brilliantly rendered with pitch-perfect points of view (POVs), allowing the reader to gain access to the inner lives of each family member, most especially the parents and Eve.
Joan has summered in this same town as a child--an only child we are told--staying with her grandmother. The house they own, however, is not the grandmother's. Joan had known Magnolia Street from years back, the street on which the young drowned man lived according to the local newspaper's account of the tragedy. (It is a little jarring to discover that Joan isn't an only child after all on page 67 where a sister is reference: "The pencils are a gift from Joan's sister...." And as I read I found myself editing where verbs tenses were wrong, where letters were left off. Not the novelist's issue. But where was the editor of this novel?!
There are a couple of other elements that I cannot account for. It seems that dead daughter has had a boyfriend for a few years, the same one. He shows up there at the summer place, so was he a summer-only romance, a boy who lives there? And then there are the episodes dealing with churches when the reader is led to believe that the Jacobses are Jews.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Jacobs family suffers from the shock of the loss of their oldest daughter/sister thru suicide, in The Why of Things. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Yankeelin
A wonderful, engrossing read that explores more intricately and subtly Ms. Winthrop's theme of the human response to loss, especially that of the younger members of families, whose... Read morePublished on June 25, 2014 by Richard I Levin MD
Technical detail of various activities is impressive, very well done. And story moves at a perfect pace. A page turner. Also, level of prose seems to me excellent. Read morePublished on May 15, 2014 by frostburg
Characters were believable and real. The ending was a bit abrupt and there are unresolved issues. All in all this is a good book.Published on December 18, 2013 by Dr. Gail Lockart
A very poignant book that follows the individual members of a family as they each try to find their way in a world that no longer contains a beloved family member. Read morePublished on November 5, 2013 by nhrbookcrazy
This was a great book. It came looking almost new and in a fast manner. I have already read the book and it was good.Published on October 6, 2013 by NotSpoonFed
A wonderful read. Winthrop's attention to detail ensures the reader will love and understand the characters, their relationships and the importance of the fascinating setting, a... Read morePublished on September 22, 2013 by Rebecca Monahan