06 April 2013

Thursday's Review: Cracks in the Sidewalk by Bette Lee Crosby

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes with such heart and compassion, that even a book with a storyline that explores a difficult subject in such a way that I can not put it down, and would choose to read it more than once. For me, I can count the number of books one one hand where that is true. Also, for me, Bette Lee Crosby is one of those authors and Cracks in the Sidewalk is one of those books. Claire McDermott's only child, her daughter Liz, is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor during her third pregnancy. For Claire and her husband Charlie, this means rallying around Liz and her family with love and support. For Liz's husband, JT, it is just another item in a long list of things that he does not want to deal with. What develops is a heart-wrenching character study of all that is both good and bad in humanity. 

This is not the first book that I have read that was written by Bette. Prior to this I read Spare Change and Cupid's Christmas and loved them both. Bette has a wonderfully intimate writing style that makes me feel that she is talking specifically to me. In addition, her prose flows off the page with such beauty and grace that the reader can't help be be entralled. This excellent writing style is the most reason that Cracks in the Sidewalk won the Royal Palm Literary Award for women's fiction, and the with good reason. This story definitely invoked strong emotions in me as the story unfolded, and the ability of Bette to balance the feelings of anger and resentment that I felt with the calming grace of Liz and the perserverance of her parents made this book a powerhouse read for me. 

The characters in this book are what really sell it. They are so real and their emotions so well documented that the reader cannot help but become involved in their lives and what they are going through. While most of the book centers around Claire and her feelings and viewpoints, the author's ability to highlight Liz's grace continually amazed me throughout the book. In addition, JT's anger and resentment jumped off the page at me, illiciting my anger and resentment  toward him. Even her portrayal of the supporting characters of doctors, lawyers, judges, etc.,and of the children involved recieved the same effort and attention to detail as that spent on the main characters in the study. As a result, I honestly felt like I knew the characters involved and could have a conversation with them if I ever met them. 

All in all, this is the best book yet that I have read by this author and I would class it as a definite must read. I would especially recommend it to readers who like to immerse themselves in real life stories filled with emotion and purpose. I am giving this book 5 stars as I know the characters will stay with me and help shape the way that I look at life and relationships for a long time to come. 

Thanks to author Bette Lee Crosby and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book for lending me this book in return for an honest review.