Thursday, November 24, 2016

How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren: Reshelved Books

Hello Everyone! & Happy Thanksgiving! *gobble, gobble* 

      This week's book review is for How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren.  For those of you who had checked out our Currently Reading page, you know that I had purchased a copy of this book from the Newport Public Library's book nook when I was on vacation this past July.  Yes, I am one of those silly library assistants that visits libraries while vacationing.  I just can't get away...
    This is the first novel that I have read by McLaren, and I was surprised to learn that she has written other novels, whose covers I have seen and been drawn to, but never actually realized she was the author of. I know, I know.  You should never judge a book by it's cover, but I almost always do. In addition to having a gorgeous wintry themed front cover, the back of this novel boasts incredible reviews from some of my favorite authors, such as Kristin Hannah, Nancy Thayer, and Susan Wiggs, so I decided to give this book a shot. 

Such a pretty cover...
    This novel opens with a scene of heartbreak and betrayal, where the main character of Jill, who recently lost her baby to a miscarriage, catches her husband in bed with another woman.  McLaren describes this heartbreak as "so many things.  Panic. Heaviness. A giant hole. Constriction.  It felt like all of these things at once.  It felt like being shot, like lying on the ground while the life leaked out of her.  She could hardly breathe" (McLaren, p. 10).  Those who have been fortunately unfortunate enough to experience heartbreak know that this is exactly what it feels like.  Heartbreak leaves a physical pain in the center of your chest, where one feels both everything and nothing at all.  I say "fortunately unfortunate," because even though the pain is unbearable, the wounds do eventually scar over.  They never completely go away, as they stay there transforming us, our souls, and the way we think about love, life, and ourselves.  But these scars also give us a different perspective, a wisdom we didn't have before, and lead us down new paths which have the potential to be so much better than the ones we once mourned for.    
    This book then becomes a journey, where Jill flees the home she once shared with her husband and moves to a town called Sparkle, Colorado.  This is where Jill begins to reevaluate herself and learn to heal from the loss of the life she once had and to embrace one she now lives.  On this journey, the reader also meets a character named Lisa, a woman who didn't believe in marriage, but also didn't respect herself enough to find a love that was more than just lust.  The reader also meets the character of a ten year old girl named Cassie, who experiences a different kind of heartbreak.  The heartbreak of losing a parent.  
    While I enjoyed this book, and the attempts that McLaren made to compare heartbreak to the loss of a child, loss of a parent, and a breakup / betrayal of a husband, as well as the comparison of love of oneself and lust vs. love, I did feel that the novel fell short in some regards. The first thing that I noticed is that while the reader is introduced to the character of Lisa and her battle with love, lust, and herself, the story line isn't as strong as that of Jill or Cassie.  Because of this, Lisa, while present within the novel, becomes lost within the pages.  Another thing that I feel worth mentioning is that McLaren places a lot of secondary male characters who enjoy noncommittal sexual relations with numerous amounts of women.  While I know she does this as a way to show the difference between lust and love, this part of the book almost becomes too much, and causes the novel to lose a little bit of emotional credibility.  

Overall, for McLaren's attempt to relay a story centered around the broad topic of "heartbreak" that was both engaging and relatable, I am going to give this novel a rating of 3 out of 5 coffee beans (because we really do love our coffee.)   

~ Jessica   

Copy Referenced: McLaren, Kaya. How I Came to Sparkle Again: A Novel. New York: St. Martin's. 2012. Print. 

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