Full of beauty and sorrow at the same time. Heartbreaking but also uplifting. A tale of despair yet also one of hope. All of these things together make this an unforgettable story.
Hope and Jack have a great life. They have three beautiful daughters, a nice home, a successful business. Happiness. But then tragedy strikes. And they are left with just two daughters. Each family member copes, or doesn’t, in their own way.
A year later, they are at a standstill. Time has put distance between them and their grief, but they haven’t really moved on. Jack loses himself in his lobster fishing. Hope loses herself in the memories of her lost daughter. And the younger girls just go on being kids.
Everything comes to a head when a forgotten part of Jack’s past shows up at their door. High school rivalries are reignited, this time with adult consequences. Through it all Hope and Jack struggle to move past their grief and save their family.
Tragedies happen, families have to find ways to deal with them. Told from alternating perspectives, this book takes us deep inside one family’s grief and their attempts to overcome it. Each family member is dealing with their own struggles along with the collective struggle of the family. It’s beautifully written, almost poetically so. A story I won’t soon forget!
There are those books that, while good enough to keep you reading, aren’t necessarily in the “can’t put it down until I finish it” category. And as voracious readers, we understand that. Not every story can be a page turner of epic proportions. That’s what I was thinking as I worked my way through the first half of this one. But then, oh boy.
The loss of a child is unimaginable for most of us, thankfully. So it’s impossible to truly understand how we might react. Would you find the strength to go on? Or would you curl up in a ball and simply wither away? Jacob’s mother is faced with just this dilemma when his young life is tragically ended on a rainy street. To make matters worse, the driver just keeps on going. Justice is not served, she’s left without a child and a purpose, and a killer runs free. So she leaves town, presumably hoping for a fresh start elsewhere.
The detectives on the case, however, can’t let it go. Lead after lead is exhausted, and still they plow on, hoping for that big break. And finally it comes. But it’s not what they expected. Actually, it’s not what anyone expected. And this is where I’ll stop.
Told in differing viewpoints alternating between past and present, this story is unforgettable. Seems like a simple detective novel at first, but ends up being so much more. So much more that I did not move from my couch as I raced through the last half. Get it, read it, and enjoy!
This Holey Life is ostensibly about an ordinary British family making their way through the mountains and valleys of life. But it’s actually about the holes … the missing pieces that are carved out of us by disappointments and pain and death of our loved ones. And it’s about the love that fills those holes, the love that comes in the form of a loyal husband, a baby’s chubby fingers, a child’s craft all sticky with too much glue, and a hug or a smile from a teenager.
Even though this novel isn’t about clinical depression, and even though I stay far away from books about depression, Duffy gives us Vicky — a mom, a preacher’s wife, a sister, a daughter — who has so much responsibility in life that she cannot push through the mud of depression due to her son’s death. And vice-versa. Vicky is so mired in sadness over her son’s death that she cannot appreciate the blessings in her responsibilities as a mom, wife, sister and daughter.
I feel for Vicky. I know what it’s like to lose someone you love, and then still be expected to carry on, as if that hole shouldn’t affect your ability to love others and take care of them with a joyful heart. I felt Vicky’s need to be alone or cry or scream — a need that went unmet because she had to fulfill her responsibilities. I empathized with Vicky the numerous times she thought she might break because she had nothing left to give — and then her brother Martin would come strolling in, taking, taking, taking more. Martin was the perfect symbol of “the last straw” in anyone’s life.
The book was just as much about Vicky’s husband Steve: his burdens, his turning point from depression to joyful living, and the steadfast love he has for his family.
This Holey Life had its light and happy moments, and I smiled often while reading. But just as often, I cried. I cried for Steve who was so loving in all the right ways, for Vicky who was so strong even though she felt her head was barely above water, for the parents and sisters and brothers and cousins, who all found their place, filling Vicky’s holes, filling her heart.