VINE VOICEon 8 August 2011
From the author's web site:
"Altagracia -- her friends call her Grace -- has a tattoo of Nuestra Señora de Altagracia on her shoulder; she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg; and she has grease worked so deep into her hands that'll never wash out.
Grace works at Sanchez Motor Works, customizing hot rods. A few blocks around her small apartment building is all her world -- from the grocery store where she buys beans, tamales and cigarettes to the library, the little record shop, and the Solona Music Hall. Which is where she meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.
Grace and John fall for one another, and that would be wonderful, except that they're both haunted by unfinished business. Before their relationship can be resolved, they're both going to have to learn things they don't know about the world of the living and the world beyond. About why it's necessary to let some things go."
This review is for the audible version, so how this book reads I can't say! First things first - this is brilliantly read, especially by Tai Sammons, who, to be fair, reads the lion's share, but her accents, and her voicing of the various characters is great. Don't get me wrong, the male narrator does an ok job, but he's reading a lot of women, and doesn't do so well.
The book starts with alternate chapters, which are quite long from a listening perspective, from either Grace or John, ending with all Grace, and underneath the love story, underneath the mystery of Grace, and Conchita, and Henry, and all the others, lies a moral tale about coping with grief and loss, about learning who we are, about moving on, and on the importance of friends.
I spent the first third or so wondering how de Lint was going to resolve the love story, reckoning I had it sussed. I was wrong, oh so very wrong, and I spent the final third wondering how this could end, and again, thought I saw how things might go, and was again wrong!
This builds both a credible love affair, and a very credible friendship, despite the whole thing hinging on a fairly incredible premise.
I loved the ending, loved the resolution of some issues and the fact that by the end, it didn't matter that other issues hadn't been sorted...
Why not 5 stars? Well, there are some longish internal monologues that I found I wanted over - if I'd been reading I'd have skipped a few pages!