Sunday 9 October 2011

This Book Will Not Save Your Life

Finished October 7
This Book Will Not Save Your Life by Michelle Berry
Not only is the title true, but it won't make your life happier either. This is a sad book about a dysfunctional family, the Swamps. The story is told in sections with different points of view, each telling some of the family history and taking the story a little further along.
It begins with Sylvia Swamp, the youngest daughter at 28, being transported by ambulance from the hospital to a veterinary hospital for a scan. At more than 700 pounds, she doesn't fit into the hospital's equipment. She begins to reflect on her life and what brought her to her current state.
We next hear from Sylvia's mother Ruth. Ruth is narcissistic, and becomes addicted late in her first pregnancy to the book Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care. She refers to it for every question she has in her life, struggling to fit its contents to her situation. At the same point she discovers the book, she also discovers a magician who works out of a local hotel. He becomes to her all that her husband isn't and she puts a lot of energy into that relationship at the expense of her family.
The next speaker is Sylvia's older sister Sadie, named by her father after his favourite dog. Sadie both wants to be like Ruth and doesn't want to be like Ruth. She loves her sister Sylvia and hates her. Sadie struggles with her life throughout, having a difficult adolescence.
Finally we have Benjamin, Sylvia's father, a man who seems almost an afterthought, a piece of furniture. He seems a man that things happen to, rather than a man who makes things happen. However, we learn that he does make things happen sometimes and they often have a lasting effect on him and others.
This is a book where things are not always as they seem, where life isn't fair, and where books won't save your life, not even if they are Dr. Spock's.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps a good book to read to reflect on one's life and be thankful for what it is, such as it is.