"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Monday, April 14, 2014

Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom

I vacillated between a 3 and a 4 star rating on this one. If I could, I would give it 3.5, or even better, a 3.8. That seems persnickety, doesn't it? Ha! Well, I've been contemplating the source of my rating ambivalence and I think it comes from my love, unrealistic though it may be, of happy endings for all involved.

I did enjoy this book and it kept me engaged the entire way through. Bergstrom explores familial and romantic love relationships through unique situational perspectives that challenge worn perceptions and pre-conceived notions about love in all its varied facets. I never got all the way to a 4-star rating or higher because at the end it didn't feel like enough of the relationships in the story were concluded. Many of the trials presented throughout the novel are left suspended in time, unresolved and unhealed, specifically, the mother/daughter relationship. The key relationship is finished up nicely so I appreciated that but I wanted more for/from the other characters whom I had also come to love. The other element keeping me from reporting a higher opinion of Steal the North are the sex scenes. I found Emmy's forward behavior regarding sex out of character for the personality she portrayed in all other aspects and this disrupted the otherwise smooth cadence of the story.

My absolute favorite part of this book is the chapter written from the perspective of Emmy's birth father, Jaimie. Reflecting on that chapter still gives me pause days after having finished the book. Jaimie's account is a raw, honest, heart breaking look into the soul of a man forced to live with the unbearable mistakes of his youth. I found this chapter to be the most powerful part of the entire novel. Bergstrom opens Jaimie up on the page, revealing his story from the past in relation to the reality of his present, unveiling the emotional turmoil roiling beneath the surface of every decision he made and every action he took from childhood to adulthood. This chapter alone is testament to Bergstom's authorial talent and firmly places her on my watch list.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18114116-steal-the-north?from_search=true.

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