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Monday, March 27, 2017

(28)Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein


Karen Neulander is a mother, a sister, and a successful campaign manager.  And Karen Neulander is dying.  She has been struggling with cancer for years and after being in remission for a long while, she is sick again. She has plans for her six-year-old son's future. Jake is going to go live with her sister in Seattle and when he is eighteen he will get to read the manuscript she is writing for him. Her plans are put into jeopardy when Jake, starts asking questions about his father, the father who told Karen to get rid of the baby.  Against her better judgment,  Karen reaches out to her ex, Dave.  She was surprised by his eagerness to see Jake. When they hit it off, she is torn.  Her death is imminent, how can she trust this man who was so quick to toss her and their unborn child aside?

Our Short History is Karen's story for her son.  It is the manuscript that she writes with the intention of Jake reading it when he turns eighteen.  Knowing her audience I struggled with liking her. She overshares her feelings and puts a lot on her son. Like her overreaction at her sister saying she might let Jake see his father.  Or her sharing details about her relationship with Dave that no kid would ever want to read about their parents.  I really wanted to shake her and tell her to grow up.  I wanted her sister to tell her that - but she walked on eggshells around Karen. I found it annoying and tiresome.  One thing was undeniable through it all - Karen's love for her son.  I know that I found fault with how Karen handled things with Jake, but I have to be careful because I don't know how I would behave in that situation.  I think the author did a good job of giving Karen some redemption at the end and it had the best ending possible when the main character had terminal cancer.

Bottom line - Our Short History was a book that I liked enough to finish, but I really wish that Karen was a more likable character.   I would love to hear what others think, to see if maybe I got thoughts on Karen wrong.

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