What she hopes to find is solace with "Bootsie," her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was.
But for Vivien things change in ways she cannot imagine when a violent storm reveals the remains of a long-dead woman buried near the Walker home, not far from the cypress swamp that is soon to give up its ghosts. Vivien knows there is now only one way to rediscover herself—by uncovering the secrets of her family and breaking the cycle of loss that has haunted her them for generations.
My thoughts...As I began reading A Long Time Gone, I was reminded why I've become such a huge fan of Karen White. Page one doesn't just bring Vivien home, it brings the reader to the Delta. A Long Time Gone is not just Vivien's story, but the story of the women who came before her, their lives shaping her and her quest to find out why.
There is the story of Vivien in the present. After coming home, Vivien gets shock after shock. She left years before and never looked back, never called home. She comes home almost with the idea that nothing would really change. She is pushed into helping out the local library and it begins a quest to find out a mystery about her family.
There is also the point of view of her mother Carol Lynne. Carol Lynne had abandoned Viven and her brother when they were growing up. When her mother finally comes home to stay Vivien took off without looking back. Carol Lynne's story is told with diary entries.
The last point of view is Adelaide in the 1920's. This was my favorite point of view. I love the time period and I couldn't be sure what was going to happen with her story. I just couldn't reconcile what I know and how it would play out. I won't say more other than, wow.
Karen's novels are always beautifully written and atmospheric. I loved each of the three points of view and how they move Vivien forward. What a family has thought to be true, is so much more. I found myself similar to Vivien, in the more I began to learn about the family history the deeper I wanted to go. Just because we understand events to be one thing, doesn't always mean our perceptions are true. We are not the past.
A Long Time Gone was one of those books that once you begin you are going to stay up late into the evening to finish. A generational story you don't' want to miss! I am highly recommending it!
I had the pleasure of meeting Karen White at my local Indie store The Booksellers of Laurelwood.
Buy a copy of A Long Time Gone