Monday 31 March 2008

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris Radish

parkerpa.jpgPublished by Random House Large Print an Imprint of Random House Canada

Meet the Liptons. Lucky Lipton is a man who loves to spend time with his friends, collect random items from all over the neighbourhood, and build bowling ball sculptures. Addy Lipton is a woman who wants more from life. She can't remember the last time she felt happy in her marriage and she hates that her husband's hobbies mean that she can't park her car in the garage. She has many hobbies of her own but her most recent is daydreaming about ramming the family car through the garage door and destroying both it, and the chaos contained behind.

One day as she finds herself seated behind the wheel of her car, in the driveway, finally about to give in and hurtle into the garage, her husband rushes over with great news. He has won a trip to Costa Rica! Addy feels a tinge of excitement for the first time in forever and allows herself to feel hope that this is their chance to discover paradise and turn their marriage around. Fate is a cruel mistress though and on the morning of their departure, Lucky fractures his back. Now Addy finds herself feeling trapped and uncertain about everything, except for the fact that she knows, as sure as the sun will rise in the morning, she doesn't know her husband - or herself - anymore.

What follows is a tale of drastic decisions, self-discovery, heartache, friendship, love, suspense and humour as Addy decides to follow her heart - wherever it may lead, and takes a whole community along for the ride!

I loved the cover on this book. After many, many, many months of looking at nothing but snow around me, this book was a welcome change. Warm colours along with an image of someone basking in the rays from the sun reminded me that summer is not that far away. Yay! As for the book itself, I was a little daunted at first glimpse but once I realised it was a Large Print edition, I knew it wouldn't take me long to inhale this novel.

I will admit that I struggled with the first 2 or 3 chapters of this book. It just didn't grab my attention the way so many of my latest reads have and I found myself caught between wanting to give up on reading it, and forcing myself to continue so that I could do a fair review. I am so glad I stuck with it! It wasn't long before I realised that not only had I stopped having a debate with myself on whether I wanted to finish the book or not, but I was actually caught up in the story and hesitant to put the book down.

The characters really draw the reader in. I am not sure which of them had more of an impact on me. Addy is the main character, in that she fills most of the chapters with her life, her hopes and dreams, her regrets and so much more. The reader can't help but feel for this woman who is going through so much and feeling things that if we are honest, most women have felt about their marriage or relationships at least once! Sprinkled throughout are chapters in which her husband Lucky speaks. What caught me by surprise about Lucky was that in each of his chapters he only actually has about a very small amount of things to say to the reader and yet I found myself feeling more attached to him because of his frankness, his heartfelt emotion, the hope, regret, and so much more that he manages to express in such a small time.

This was a wonderful read for me once I got past my initial frustration with the novel. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I know I didn't anticipate that I would find it to be such an engaging read. I love that the author managed to include tragedy, heartache, laughter and fun in perfect harmony. I found it to be really surprising also. I had no idea where the characters would lead me next and as much as I tried to guess ahead, I was never even close.

Another thing I liked was that I found myself feeling the turmoil that the characters were facing. As much as they were struggling to discover what they wanted from life, I found myself constantly changing my hopes for each of them. I can't remember the last time a novel caused that type of reaction in me and it really added a little something to the experience. What I liked too is that none of the chapters are all that long which makes it a really easy read because if you want to read it continuously, you feel like you are reading at an incredible rate as the chapters pass you by but if you find yourself having to deal with real life and have a couple of minutes here and there to pick the book up again, you can easily squeeze a chapter in. There is a downside to that also. I found myself crawling into bed some nights and feeling far too tired to read but knowing I could squeeze a chapter in before falling asleep, often led to me actually reading much more.

I love when a book surprises me. When I look at my original reaction to this book, and how I felt upon finishing it, it was a real turnaround. I am glad I stuck with it.

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