The Life Before Her Eyes Paperback – Nov 11 2002
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From Library Journal
This third novel by Michigan author Kasischke (Suspicious River) opens with a shocking scene from a Columbine-like school massacre. Diana and her best friend are confronted by a schoolmate killer, but only Diana is spared. Fast-forward 20 years: Diana, now middle-aged and still beautiful, is a housewife and artist living in the same idyllic university town with a handsome professor-husband and a young daughter. She has seemingly repressed her memory of the event as well as her survivor's guilt, but her perfect world and her grip on reality are both starting to crack. These scenes are imbued with that sense of eerie apprehension found in a good horror flick. Woven through the book is a flashback narrative of Diana's sunny but empty-headed adolescent days. The novel plays teenage Diana's youthful illusions of immortality and beauty against the shifting, uneasy reality of middle age. Kasischke, also a published poet, writes prose that is dreamy and lyrical. This is one book you won't want to put down. Highly recommended for all popular fiction collections.
- Reba Leiding, James Madison Univ., Harrisonburg, VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Disturbing fiction (Suspicious River 1996, and White Bird in a Blizzard, 1999) is fast becoming prizewinning poet Kasischke's hallmark. Her third novel opens with a haunting scene set in the girls' washroom of a high school. Diana is goofing in front of the mirror with her best friend, Maureen, "when they hear the first dot-dot-dot of automatic gunfire. It sounds phony and far away." They are eventually confronted by the gunman, a fellow classmate whom "they'd never even really noticed." He asks them a terrible question, "Which one of you girls should I kill?" Kasischke then juxtaposes scenes from 17-year-old Diana's life with scenes from her apparent future as a 40-year-old wife and mother. In the final chapter, however, the author ambushes the reader with a shocking revelation about Diana's fate. Whether the novel is viewed as a cheap narrative trick (there will be plenty of readers crying foul) or an imaginative exploration, there's no denying that Kasischke is a fearless writer. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In conclusion, this is a beautifully written book that was incredibly intruiging, but very unsatisfying.
The book held my interest for the most part, however the frequent changes between when Diana was young & when she's a housewife, are often hard to follow. There's some sequences that don't seem to belong to either- they're like dreams. And they're never really explained. This book is like you're in one big dream- with a lot of poetry & prose.
To some degree I enjoyed the flowery writing and the strangeness of the dreams. However, after a while, it got very frustrating and I just wanted to know what was REAL and what was not. Also- as she's describing the younger years between Diana & Maureen, she never uses names, it's just "the girl" or "the friend"-- thank god sometimes she'll say "the blonde"- then you know it's Diana. Often I found myself not sure of who was who. And frankly, being an avid reader- if it confused me, I think it will confuse most people.
I guess I'd recommend this book with caution. Nothing is cut & dry, it's pretty much all up to you to figure out what's going on and what the ending means. I was really hoping there would be more of an explanation at the end or a study guide, comment from the author, but there wasn't any of that.
The Life Before Her Eyes begins with two best friends, Diana and Maureen, as they are primping in the girls' restroom at their high school. Suddenly, one of their classmates comes in and points a loaded gun straight at them. "Which one of you should I kill?" he asks....
At that point, the story takes off around 25 years into the future. Diana is a happily married artist and mother of 8-year-old Emma. She is the typical minivan-driving soccer mom. Everything is going well, but then there begins these subtle changes -- changes almost of a ghostly nature that impact Diana's life in terrifying ways. And interspersed between the paragraphs of Diana's future are excerpts from Diana's past with her friend, Maureen, before the shooting.
I was completely mesmerized with this book. I felt that something was building up, some sort of surprise or twist to the story, but I could quite figure out what it would be. And by novel's end, I was so out of breath with the anticipation! Laura Kasischke has written an amazing novel. She has a great gift of storytelling that is unshakeable. I loved every minute and every word, and I look forward to reading more by this author.
The slow pace picks up further on with the bizarre events that begin to disrupt Diana's middle aged life, such as the reappearance of Timmy the cat and the mysteriously altered story young Emma writes for school. Other, more subtle hints are dropped here and there, so you do eventually guess what is happening. Still, the final pages are quite powerful and well worth sticking with the novel through it's slower moments. A highly original story that's lingered in my thoughts ever since I closed the book.
Most recent customer reviews
The story begins with an interesting question: if you were forced to choose between saving your own life or sacrificing yourself for your best friend, what would you do? Read morePublished on June 27 2004 by J. Walsh
My book club chose this book for the month. I will readily admit that the reason I didn't like this book is due to my own stubborness. Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2003 by Monica ~Clay Aiken and Buffy Fanatic
I started this book one afternoon never having heard of Laura Kasischke. I found it in our local library. From the moment I opened it I could not put it down. Read morePublished on July 22 2003 by S. L Yany
A carefully written and timely story about a woman who was involved in a school shooting during her senior year, _The Life Before Her Eyes_ was both a quick read and difficult to... Read morePublished on July 14 2003 by Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel
I was extremely excited to start this book. I am extremely glad that I am done with it. I still don't really know what the point of the story was or really what I read. Read morePublished on April 16 2003 by Trina Kroll
What a disturbing and compelling book. I felt like I was caught up in a nightmare. The two stories told simultaneously added to the dream-like quality of the book. Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2003 by Cathe
I read this book after I read the review in the New York times. I won't get into the plot here as others already have. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002