Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Connected Underneath

Amazon Summary: Madena, upstate New York. Like any other small town, everybody keeps an eye on everybody else's business without recognizing the secrets that connect them. The wheelchair-bound Celeste conjures up lives from what she sees and thinks she sees while peering through binoculars from her kitchen fan vent. Fifteen-year old Persephone trades sex for tattoo sessions that get her high and help her forget her girlfriend doesn't love her. Theo was the high-school bad boy who couldn't have the respectable girl he adored from afar, but now, sitting behind the counter of the last video store in town, worries wretchedly about the restless daughter he never understood. Natalie, trying to grasp the last shreds of respectability, would do anything to forget the baby she gave up long ago, including betray her husband and son. Celeste, longing to connect, combines truth with fantasy, intervenes and interferes, finally understanding that things have gone terribly wrong and that she stands at the heart of disaster.
Connected Underneath is a lyrical, scalpel-keen dissection of the ties that bind and of those that dissolve.

I don't envy the author/editor who had to come up with that summary. It's a good one, and better than anything I could do. The story itself is difficult to describe plot-wise, made up of an eclectic group of characters and their complex histories. Linda Letgers' writing is beautiful, smart and compelling. It's heavier on narration than dialogue, and I worried that might slow things down, but it didn't. I zoomed through this.

There are so many amazing descriptions. Here's one of a punch to the gut: "Billie needed to fold in two, but Theo held him upright long enough for the pain to point back into Billie's brain and out through his toes and to become shooting sparks from his pupils, syllables in his mouth.".

This may be the first book I've ever read with an unreliable, omniscient narrator. The concept was unusual and well done. Mixed with first-person narration, the omniscient narrator turns out to be a character in the story who thinks she has everyone else figured out and also admits to being a liar. It's up to the reader to decide if she can be trusted.

I offered to read and review this honestly in exchange for a copy of the ebook, and I'm glad I did.

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