Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Reads: Drawing Free by Elena Aitken

A moody teenager. A screaming kindergartner. A marriage with a lost owner's manual. An aging parent who doesn't recognize you. Any one of those might be enough to make a woman want to run away.  But most never would.   Becca thought this was her lot in life until one day she had finally had enough and took the off ramp to escape.

Much of Elena Aitken's book is spent thoroughly making the reader FEEL what Becca is going through.   She expertly build you into Becca's world, though still allows you to see the areas that Becca herself has trouble understanding. More than once I found myself nodding in agreement to the situations - they were raw and very real as she worked through her feelings about her self-propelled marriage and her hopelessness about her father's battle with Alzheimer's Disease.   The attitudes and temperaments of her children gave me glimpses into the future with my own.   Aitken has a way of masterfully crafting female characters.  Of modeling them until they are painfully realistic. 

The story has a simple premise:
  • Mom never thought this would be her life
  • Mom gave up every bit of herself for her husband and family
  • Mom tried not to be resentful of everything she's given up
  • Mom is depressed
  • Mom snaps and abandons her family to find herself
It is a mommy fantasy - "What if I just took that off ramp and disappeared for a while?" and Aitken has allowed a glimpse at how it might play out.   As Becca escapes into the mountains, to a family cabin she didn't know her family had, she begins to allow the ties that bind and gag her to loosen.   A dalliance with the man sent to maintain the property serves to simultaneously simplify and complicate her life.   New connections emerge to the mother she never knew and finding the answers to the questions that surface on her "time-out" from life help her see that she needs to take ownership of her life.

If anything, this story makes me less likely to want to run away when the going gets tough. It makes me appreciate the time I claim away from my kids.   The story shows the seedy underbelly of the other side of that mommy fantasy.   And, ultimately, the story seems unfinished because she never does resolve the issues that caused her to run away in the first place.  It makes it difficult to see a happy ending - all that is left is the hard work of re-building the life she wants from the pieces she is left with.

I think it sounds like I am a bit down on the story itself.  Don't get me wrong - I did really enjoy the story.  It was pure, raw emotion and these emotions are very difficult to put into the written word.  It speaks the world of Aitken's talent as a writer.   The story was like daydreams made real and proven that reality cannot live up to the rose-coloured glasses of a daydream.  If you are a fan of women's fiction - I recommend you pick this one up for your Kindle.

1 comment:

  1. Cori,
    Thank you for taking the time to read and review Drawing Free.
    Becca definitely deals with some raw emotions, and ones that I hope resonate with women everywhere. You're right, there is a lot of hard work left for her at the end. Maybe another story...


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