REVIEW: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Release Date: June 14th, 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Maine follows the story of family with its own serious problems, but they all come together every summer to spend time in the family’s summer home in Maine. The book follows the accounts of four women: Alice, the feisty and grumpy matriarch; Kathleen, Alice’s adult first-born daughter; Maggie, Kathleen’s co-dependent daughter; and Ann Marie, Alice’s daughter-in-law seeking perfection through fixing everyone’s problems.
Sullivan creates a completely real and true world in which these women retell the history of the family through their own eyes and experiences. Alice is the product of surviving the Depression and World War II. She harbors enough Catholic guilt to last two lifetimes and feeds that guilt with alcohol and an obsession with paying back her family for not understanding her. Kathleen hates dealing with her family, so she tries to avoid it by moving all the way to California to live with her boyfriend on their own worm fertilizer farm. Maggie is pregnant and alone, trying to create relationships with her family that her mother cannot stand. Ann Marie has a strange passion for decorating doll houses and trying to make her family exactly the opposite of the horrible childhood she had endured.
I have to say that I loved this book. It does not rely on a fast plot or flashy gimmicks so many authors try to use these days. Maine is just the story of the women of the family; how each one of them survives in her own head after living through so many hardships and family dilemmas. At times, I found myself really hating a character for an opinion she had or something nasty she said, but then I realized that she was just being authentically human in all of her faults. While I did not identify with all of the women, I saw so many characteristics that I have witnessed in real life.
As the story progresses, I became more engrossed in the nuances of each woman. I could not put the book down. I think that any woman will love this book, as long as she has an open view of the human experience and realizes that every individual has countless problems she has to endure. This is a great summer read that you will not want to put down. It has reminded me of so many family vacations I have taken where someone says something annoying to someone else, but everyone just makes up at the end of the day, just for the sake of family.
The only part of the book that I did not like was the cover Don’t get me wrong, the cover is absolutely gorgeous! I just find it sort of misleading. The book is definitely not about a young girl just having fun at the beach in Maine. The image seems to be too shallow for a book of this magnitude.
I give it a 5 out of 5.