Sunday, March 13, 2011

(32) State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy

I know that I have spouted off about politically centric fiction novels in recent posts. I guess it should be no surprise to me that some novelists feel the need to write about the political divides our country is dealing with, as we are more politically divided than it has ever been since the Civil War. I think that if someone is going to write about our political differences they should take lessons from Douglas Kennedy.

State of the Union is a wonderfully written novel about Hannah's life. As a child she was the kid that everyone was envious of because her parents were very liberal with their parenting. Her father was very active in the anti-war protests of the 60's which caused great friction between Hannah and her parents more than once. When Hannah decides to become a doctor's wife and settle down in Maine to raise her perfect little family, her parents are more than disappointed that Hannah chose such a conventional role for her life.

Flash forward thirty years and that perfect life that Hannah has worked so hard to create is unraveling. Her twenty-something daughter, Lizzie, is coming apart at the seams after an affair with a married man ends. Then Lizzie goes missing. Hannah and her husband are struggling to hold it together and are giving everything they have got to finding her when in unrelated events, someone from Hannah's past writes a tell all biography about his explosive politically motivated past. And devotes an entire chapter to Hannah. Her entire world is crumbling around her, how can she survive hit after hit?

I really, really enjoyed State of the Union. The parallels between Hannah's relationship with her parents and her relationships with her kids, specifically her Conservative son, Jeff, are interesting to watch throughout the novel. There were many times when it was hard to like Hannah, but it was easy to feel empathetic for her situation. Just one of those issues would be enough to bring a woman to her knees, yet Hannah had to deal with them all simultaneously, and showing great strength while doing so. I liked how Kennedy put forth both viewpoints of the political spectrum with extremists on both sides. He did not condemn one side or the other through his words and THAT is something I enjoyed. I did not come away from this novel feeling as if I had been preached to or talked down to because of my political viewpoint.

As long as there are politics, there will always be differing viewpoints. It is naive of me to think, that with as much as I read, I will be able to avoid novels that have political ideologies differing from mine. But if they are written as Mr. Kennedy has written State of the Union, then I will deal with it just fine. Well done, Mr. Kennedy, I look forward to reading more of your works.

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Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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