Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow Me

author photo from hachette images

Follow Me
by Joanna Scott
432 pages
Little, Brown and Company
April 22, 2009

When a young girl longs to learn of her family, of her heritage she is in for an exciting narration from her grandmother (AKA Sally Werner). She makes the young girl promise to never tell another soul what she is going to tell her, as she has never told anyone herself. In her grandmother's words she pieces together the mystery of her father's choices, and mostly the choice he made to leave her, a choice she lives with daily. Her family secrets are what make up a history of hardship and difficulty, however at the same time she realizes that within her family's history fanciful legends and tales hold the same value as the truth. However when she is confronted with her father, a man she had never known because of his choice to (after a failed suicide attempt) leave both she and her mother for a better life, she learns that he has another story all together about her grandmother. But could the elaborate story that her grandmother entrusted to her may only be fiction after all?

Follow Me is an interesting portrayal of family difficulties, discrepancies in family history and more than anything the lives that become that history. Since lives are lived only by one person, and seen by others in a much different light than one intends, history of the living is difficult to nail down. Follow Me is a novel of mysteries, family secrets and after a full dose of half-truths and some lies, there is a family history that evolves.

My thoughts are scattered on this read. I did enjoy the writing, it was as fluid and practical as it was elegant. Joanna Scott is an amazing storyteller and an extremely gifted writer, the tale flows from her words with ease. The only problem was that sometimes it seemed like it was too at ease, too leisurely, and I wished to learn faster. I found it interesting, but felt myself lagging behind in the thrill of it. I didn't completely fall head-over-heels with Sally Werner either, who this story is really about. For me it was mostly that somehow I felt I needed to be guarded against her because her choices made me nervous, and when I was allowed to know her thoughts about herself they were so harsh- that it just made me distrust her. By far the biggest fault of the book, which may be my own, is that I just lacked that personal bond with the characters. I did enjoy this read though, just not as much as I had hoped when it started out.

When you don't connect with the characters, does it make it harder for you to fall in love with the book? Do you find it harder to connect with characters you feel consistently make the wrong choices?

Some other perspectives:
Peeking Between the Pages
My Friend Amy
S. Krishna's Books
Booking Mama
Caribou's Mom
Savvy Verse & Wit


bermudaonion said...

I found Sally frustrating at first, but did eventually connect with her and ended up really enjoying the book.

Serena said...

Sally was very frustrating and I was also disconnected from the characters when I read this one. I didn't like this book as much as some others on the tour.

Ti said...

I have to enjoy the characters if I am to like a book. They don't have to be morally sound, but they have to be well drawn to hold my attention.

Anna said...

I thought the book moved slowly, too. I didn't really like Sally's character. I admired her determination, but I didn't like her.

Diary of an Eccentric

Miriam said...

I think it is possible to appreciate a book if you don't love the characters...but it does make LOVING it harder. :) Thanks for the thoughtful post!

Wendy said...

Really good review of this book, Bethany. I agree that the tale meandered and was a little slow. It also took me some time to like Sally - she was a tough person to get a handle on, but eventually I appreciated her strength. I think not loving the characters can definitely take away from the overall appreciation of a book.

avisannschild said...

Yes and yes (to answer your two questions)! I haven't read this book, but I find it hard to love a book if I can't relate in some way to the main character. Thanks for your thoughtful review.

elizabeth said...

I like what Miriam said. Occasionally I can appreciate a book that is really excellent despite a lack of connection with the characters, but I don't ever fall for those books. (And with the limited time I have reading, I want to fall for all my books.) Good review.

S. Krishna said...

I totally agree - I didn't really warm to the characters, so I think it hindered my enjoyment of the novel.

Joanne said...

Sometimes I relate to and love a character but hate the direction the book takes plot-wise, and the reverse has happened too.

Usually I don't find it harder to enjoy a book with a character I don't connect with, sometimes I even enjoy it more because it opens up behavior/actions/thoughts I normally wouldn't have considered.

A character that makes the glaringly obvious wrong choices annoys me to no end - especially if it seems to be a way to move the plot along. Otherwise I'm okay with mistakes and bad choices, as long as there is that tiniest bit of rationale or natural human impulse behind it.

naida said...

Hi, great blog!
Nice review, if I dont connect with the characters, then I probably won't enjoy teh book as much.

Tasses said...

I am a character reader. If I can't invest with the character, I'm usually done. Great review... I'd been wondering about this one :-)

Wendy said...

Congratulations on winning the daily dose at Powells today, Bethany! Woo hoo!!

Dar said...

That was my problem with the book too. I never really connected and it made it hard to keep reading. I find it really drawn out as well. For me it was ok but not a favorite.