Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The Shortest Way Home: A Novel by Juliette Fay Review and GIVEAWAY
The Shortest Way Home: A Novel by Juliette Fay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. Completely relatable, The Shortest Way Home is another perfect serving of a slice of life from the irresistible Fay.
My thoughts: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It's not a fast moving story nor is it evocative or highly moving. It quietly educates the reader on a number of common and uncommon maladies along with a message of looking close to home for the best place to serve.
The protagonist is Sean, a 43 year old man, who has been spent the past couple of decades running himself ragged in war torn and health ravaged countries. As a registered male nurse, he has dedicated his life to help the less fortunate and put himself in harms way to better the lives of others. Sean believes he is a ticking time bomb. His mother was diagnosed with early onset Huntington's Disease and died young. His father then abandoned the remaining three children for the Merchant Marines and the bottle. They grew up with their mother's sister, a spinster satisfied with keeping others distant and cold.
Huntington's Disease is genetic and not found statistically higher in either gender. Children of people with Huntington's Disease have a 50% chance of having it themselves. The age of onset is typically by early forties. It is degenerative and uncurable. It affects the body but especially the mind. There is now a test for the disease but this is one aspect that was not covered in the book, there are repercussions for possibly having it before onset. One family I knew had five children before the mother was discovered to have the disease. The impeccably dressed and beautiful young woman with all the social graces spiraled to an obsessive, bad tempered and overweight woman with no memory of her husband and children and threw food at her caregivers. The father wanted to plan for the children and the care of his wife was financially ruining him. He didn't dare have them tested for fear they would be uninsurable once the results were revealed to the insurance company. Eventually, he divorced his wife so she could be placed into the custody of the state and drove the children to Canada where they were tested. Only the father knows which of the children will develop Huntington's Disease.
Sorry for the detour.
So Sean is summoned home. He is now confused and reasonably certain he dodged the Huntington's bullet. So what does he do now? At this point, Sean grapples with faith in God, the bigger picture, and "now what". His aunt seems to be developing possible Alzheimer's. His younger sister is tired of being the caregiver and wants to have a life. His younger brother, who lived life hard, died of pneumonia years before but has a son who is now 11 years old. The boy has some interesting quirks. Kevin is a great vehicle for educating the readers on a few different differences of the nervous system that are not uncommon and affect many children and adults. I loved the way the information was presented. Sean wants to understand Kevin better and ends up discovering more about his brother. For good measure, the grown children's father makes an appeal to enter their lives again.
For having a male protagonist, the book is still perfect Chick Lit. There is a romance developing and a couple of mild sex scenes thrown in for good measure. Nothing blush worthy, just good, clean fornication.
I can't just justify that last sentence.
It's a great book to savor on vacation or cozy nights under a quilt. I really enjoyed it.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.