Thursday, October 30, 2014

Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline

In Desire Lines, Jennifer walks away from a post-graduation bonfire and is never seen again. Years later, her friend Kathryn, now a recently-divorced journalist finds herself back in her hometown where memories of Jennifer's disappearance come back to haunt her.

I adored this book. I've been reading lots of gritty mysteries and this one, while it did contain a mystery, stood in stark contrast because it was tamer (for want of a better word). It was a welcome respite and a wonderful read.

Over the years, there have been only a few characters with whom I really identified with from all of the books that I've read. That's probably not that unusual, but it sure is nice to run into a kindred spirit every now and then, even if they are fictional. Imagine my surprise when I saw myself (well, at least partially) in two of the characters in this book! Both Kathryn and Jennifer had traits that I possess or had thoughts that I've had.

By coming home and dealing with Jennifer's disappearance, Kathryn learned more about herself and dealt with some issues that were causing her pain. Because I had seen parts of me in Kathryn (as I explained above), I too learned more about myself and gained some insight into my behaviours and thoughts that I hadn't had before. I think that's probably why I loved the book so much.

There were two other things about the book that I loved. The overall sad tone of the book really appealed to me. I don't know why, but I really like books where the characters are miserable. I don't think of myself as a morose person, but I guess in some ways I am. The book is also about memories, especially those haunting ones. How memories work and how people remember things is another one of my favourite subjects.

One of my favourite passages in the book explains the title of the book.
...this is what I call a desire line. Strictly speaking, it's a landscape-architecture term for the paths people create when they cut across the grass instead of taking a prescribed route--people who follow their desires, if you want to be literal. But I just use it to describe any foot trails that's relatively new and hasn't been formalized by markers or maps. (page 323)

This edition of the book contains a P.S. section, which features more about the author, a reading group guide and excerpts of her other books. It was definitely worth the read, but I didn't find it as interesting or informative as other P.S. sections in other books. I would have loved more insight into this story and/or an interview with the author.

Highly recommended. I'd love to read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at William Morrow/HarperCollins for this review copy.

Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©1999. ISBN 9780060566944(Trade paperback), 343p.

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