Author: Jaclyn Moriarty Publisher: Macmillan Australia
I wanted to love this book. I bought this book and kept it until my Easter break to read because I wanted to read and enjoy it at my leisure without any distractions. Unfortunately, I never connected with this adult novel by Jaclyn Moriarty.
When I saw that Jaclyn Moriarty was releasing an adult book I was so excited. Moriarty is one of my favourite writers. Though, for some reason, I never connected with this book. I am not sure why when every other reviewer seems to have loved this book. Words such as extraordinary, beautiful, astonishing, uplifting and unique have all been used in relation to this book.
The writing is spectacular, as you would expect from Jaclyn Moriarty. At times, I enjoyed Abigail’s internal dialogue, sometimes she would annoy me and I didn’t always find her endearing. Though, nor do I think I should like the main character all the time! For characters to be three dimensional, I feel you should have mixed emotions towards them – like real people. But I also feel that in the end you should be championing for the character and wanting the best for them. In the end, I didn’t care for Abigail and couldn’t have cared less what happens to her.
There were times that I found Abigail’s internal dialogue hilarious, mainly when she made her way to The Retreat to find out more about The Guidebook. Though, don’t get me started on The Guidebook!
A plastic frangipani flower was woven into this woman’s ponytail; I tried not to judge her for this.
Other times I found the internal dialogue quite self-indulgent – which I guess in a way internal dialogue is meant to be (sometimes), but I found Abigail’s internal dialogue more annoying than it was endearing.
I wonder if I wasn’t the target audience for this book. I don’t believe that Gravity is the Thing was written for childless women. I found Abigail’s child ANNOYING. I think (and I am looking through the book to find the child’s name) Oscar was one of the reasons that I didn’t like this book. I found all the interactions with Oscar tedious and grating. I know I was meant to understand the special bond she had with this child and I do believe that I was expected to fall in love with Oscar. I also can see how mothers would love this part of the book. I am sure there were lots of mothers out there nodding their heads and remembering their own similar instances with their children. BUT I just found Oscar another indulged small child. I didn’t find him funny, adorable or charming.
There was one quote in the book that I loved that was about children and I have probably taken this line entirely out of context!
I mean, they’re a dime a dozen, children.
I often find it interesting that people believe that their children are their most significant achievements. Yes, I imagine raising children is hard but lots of people do it. Lots of people have children – it isn’t really an achievement!
Ultimately, I didn’t connect with the book. I kept on reading hoping that the story and the characters would all fall into place and I would find that magic that everyone else had found from reading this book, but it wasn’t to be.
I do thank Jaclyn Moriarty for shining a light on missing persons. This was a part of the book that my heart did break at, particularly when I read the acknowledgements at the end. It must be truly horrific to have a loved one missing. That never knowing and always wondering and questioning.
I also do love how Moriarty wrote about how life moves on and even though great tragedy has struck your life you can still enjoy life and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.
Later that night, my mother phone and informed me: ‘We are designed to recover.’
‘I mean, I know that not everybody does,’ she added, ‘but that’s the design.’ And she expressed irritation with the number of people who say you never recover from the loss of a child.
‘But often I’m happy,’ she said. ‘You can be happy, Abigail. I myself am happy with my new frangipani tree and Xuang.’
I still love Jaclyn Moriarty and I will still read everything she writes. I am a little heartbroken that I can’t share in the love for this book. I know that I am in the minority because lots of people loved this book and found great joy and magic within its pages. For me, I didn’t connect with the book and that’s okay. Not all books are for everyone.