Gilly Soloman has a life most women would die for. She's a stay at home mother, married to a wonderful man who has two adorable children, and even a dog. Gilly is truly living the American dream. But Gilly wants to run away from it all, this life she has made for herself with the stink of spilled milk in the backseat of her car because of her needy children, an always unfinished To Do List, and a husband who only helps out when he feels like it. Gilly can barely function anymore as she longs for release from her personal hell.
As Gilly drives home from her latest time consuming errand, she stops at an ATM. When she gets back in the car, a man holding a knife climbs into the passenger seat. Gilly must stop this madman before he can hurt her or her babies. She crashes the car and helps her children flee, only to be held hostage by the man, who makes her drive without telling her where he plans to take her. Finally when the car needs gas, this gives Gilly the perfect opportunity to get away. But she doesn't jump out of the car and scream for help. She realizes if she stays, she doesn't have to return to the constant needing and never-ending demands placed upon her.
Her chain-smoking, knife holding kidnapper, Todd, takes her deep into the woods where he was left a cabin by his uncle. Todd never planned to take Gilly with him, he only wanted her car. But since they are miles from nowhere and a wicked winter storm has arrived, he has no choice but to keep Gilly with him. Gilly does try to escape, to no avail. She hates Todd and longs for her husband and children, but she also has a sense of tranquility, a time to reflect back on her life. Gillys thinks of her mentally unstable mother and how she met her husband Seth. Todd is lonely and afraid, just out of prison with nothing to live for, other than what his uncle has left him and now Gilly. He feels Gilly is a kindred soul, and soon he wonders if he and Gilly can stay in the woods together and build a happy family. Gilly begins to sympathize with Todd and the steps he has taken and why, but as the winter moves on, she longs to return to all she has left behind. She comes to the conclusion how special those precious things really are that once drove her crazy. But Todd refuses to let her go. Now she has another decision to make regarding Todd and how far she will go to get free.
Precious and Fragile Things is the first book I've ever by Megan Hart, and one that really opens your mind to those precious things that may drive you crazy sometimes. Told from the point of view of Gilly, this is a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She wants to escape her perfect life and her husband and two young children. She gets her wish when she is carjacked. Gilly comes to a few welcomed conclusions, and how her kidnapper Todd, is not what he seems. These are two very flawed people who come to rely on one another.
Some may view Gilly as selfish. But I saw her as a woman on the verge of despair and hopelessness. Even though her decision to stay with Todd may seem very strange, this gives her the chance to open her eyes to all that she has and how blessed she truly is.
Todd is a sympathetic character that reminds me very much of Bigger Smart, from the classic novel, Native Son by Richard Wright. As Bigger was a product of his environment, the same applies to Todd. He acts the way he does because he's a desperate man with no hope, much like Gilly is in regards to the downward spiral of her own life. Whereas Gilly suffers mainly in silence, Todd is very vocal. When he tells Gilly what his mother did to him and his siblings as children, your heart will break. Megan slowly builds a shaky camaraderie between these two that can never go farther than the cabin. And the outcome with how Gilly finally ends her relationship with Todd is poetic in a sense.
The one major problem I had with Precious and Fragile Things is a sudden, out of left field shocking admittance on Todd's part about his mother and uncle's relationship. This outlandish reveal may stun the reader and would have been left unwritten. I really can't understand why Megan would add it in the first place. Perhaps to shed light on why Todd turned out the way he did? Even with this issue concerning Todd, and the too pat, questionable ending, I still felt myself drawn in by these two characters and their histories.
Much like Emma Donoghue's Room is about the power of love, Megan Hart's Precious and Fragile Things shows how nothing should never be taken for granted. Life is precious in all its forms, and sometimes it takes a disturbing event or an unsettling person to place a mirror up to our faces, much like Todd does with Gilly.
Precious and Fragile Things is a poignant and reflective tale that I urge anyone read. Afterward, you may find yourself holding those you love close and thanking them for loving you in return.