Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Accidental Light by Elizabeth Diamond

In An Accidental Light, Jack Phillips, a Police Constable, accidentally hits and kills Laura Jenkins, a 13-year-old young girl, with his car. He is devastated to the point where he is having trouble carrying on with his job, his family and life in general. Meanwhile, Lisa and Derek, Laura's parents, are distraught at the loss of their daughter. Derek becomes dejected, while Lisa tries to figure out how to continue living. Eventually Jack and Lisa meet and no one would guess at the outcome. This is a brilliant novel in which marriages are tested, trust is betrayed, past secrets are revealed and lives are forever changed.

I adored this book. Diamond's writing is superb. She has a wonderful ability to construct a multifaceted story that grabs the reader and doesn't let go. It didn't turn out like I thought it was going to. but I loved it anyway. Actually, it was so much better than I would have imagined in the end. The beginning of the story could have been ripped from the headlines, but the rest of it, how people carry on after a great tragedy, was the stuff we never see on TV.

The storyline and characters brought forward a despondency that I felt from the very first page of the book. From the dealing with the tragic death of Laura, to reacting to current family issues, to facing past demons, Jack's and Lisa's lives were filled with one heartbreak after another. The characters were so believable, it was hard not to feel for them. I couldn't help but wish that they'd find a little peace and happiness.

The novel is written in a unique way. Parts of it are written in the second person (using "you"), although it's not readily apparent who the "you" is. It's not until later in the book that we find out to whom Jack and Lisa are writing or speaking. This style was very well suited to the story. I don't think I've read another book written this way, but I'd love to read more of them.

The author arranged the novel so that Jack and Lisa take turns telling their stories, which contained so many similarities it was a little spooky. I had a little trouble switching from Jack to Lisa and then back again only because I got caught up in Jack story and wanted to hear more. Then I got caught up in Lisa's story and wanted more of that. I was totally immersed in this story. I wanted to know how it ends, but didn't want to let go of these characters.

Highly recommended. A book like this doesn't come around every day. I'd jump at the chance to read another book by Elizabeth Diamond.

Want to know more about this book? You can read the synopsis at Random House as well as have a peek inside the book.

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