This is a great read. Despite some flaws that even a mediocre editor should have fixed, I was enthralled by the story from the beginning. While her previous book, Broken For You, was tighter and better executed (I gave it 5 stars), this one is more ambitious and therefore takes a little more effort at times; it can seem choppy at first. Still I wiggled with delight each time I hunkered down to read it, and put off reading the end for as long as I could. I wanted to stay in Emyrn Springs. As far as plot goes, you can read another blurb for those details, but to give you its flavour: it's Fried Green Tomatoes meets Where the Heart is, with a Welsh cultural twist that I found charming and new. It's redemptive, which is a quality that always leaves me deeply satisfied, even if the story is mostly tragic. I've never been to Nebraska but feel like I have now. Ms. Kallos captures place and character very, very well. I am surprised that this author is not getting the rave reviews and attention that she richly deserves. Perhaps it is a business problem-- agent, editor, contract, marketing to the wrong audience...
on January 20, 2010
I didn't read Ms Kallos' first book so I didn't know what to expect when I began this book club entry. I was not impressed--neither were the other members of the club.
We all agreed that there were bits and pieces of the book that were interesting but, overall, it missed the mark. We thought it had the potential for a really good novel based on the premise of a mother dying in a natural disaster and the impact of that on her children. However, the author wasn't focused enough. Instead of an in-depth analysis of the characters, the reader's (and the author's) attention was distracted by: a fantasy representation of the dead which didn't really add to the plot (whatever that was); an exhaustive explanation of a town's burial practices which also didn't relate, except to provide a title. In addition, those burial rites were too fantastic to be believable. Frequent inclusions of Welsh were a distraction that disrupted possible enjoyment of the book. The ending was way too pat. It felt like the author had been told, after 500 pages, to 'wrap it up' and she did--with a very unoriginal conclusion.
I believe the book suffered from too little editing and too many flights of fancy. The author believes that where one adjective is good--seven is better--another distraction.
I would not recommend this book.
on March 7, 2009
Years ago, I was deeply affected by a novel. Since then, I have gifted more than 50 copies of it to friends, family, acquaintances. I remarked to a bookseller once 'If you're a writer, this novel will have one of two effects on you: it will either inspire you to write as you've never written before, or depress you so much that you never write again.'
The novel was Ann-Marie MacDonald's 'Fall On Your Knees'.
'Sing Them Home' had me thinking of it regularly. In fact, there were moments where Ms Kallos' offering was so very good, that I felt much the same sentiment I'd related to the aforementioned bookseller. But at other moments...
'Close...but no cigar.'
This novel has some of the most emphatic, some of the most commanding, brilliant, lyrical writing I've had the pleasure to consume over the past few years. I was very much caught up in it, dazzled, moved.
But it also has some missteps that, in the end, reduced the book's eventual impact, its status for me.
It reaches for a lot. And let it be said, it grasps a lot, and in some delightful executions.
But it's not a masterpiece.
It's not an unforgettable piece of literature.
Maybe it could have been.
And maybe I'm being harsh. If I am, it's because there's so much at the start to fall in love with. To not be as nourished as you come to believe you're going to be...I confess to more than a little heartbroken.
I fear that her stamina...or that of her editor...was not sufficient to get her to the finish line with the same energy as her endeavour's start.
Ms Kallos is far more talented than most of the writers out there, certainly one of the most talented writers I've had the good fortune of reading. This novel might not be for everyone, it might be flawed, but it's a testimony to the quality if fiction currently available. Brava
on February 28, 2009
The beginning of this book grabbed me and I enjoyed the read up until the first 250 pages. After that, I felt as though the story could've been told more succinctly. By the time I got to page 300 I couldn't wait for it to end. I found some holes in the story line that bothered me. I would not recommend this to my friends to read.