After a few starts and stops, I finally gave my full attention to Anna Quindlen's Blessings and was determined to finish. Although the beginning failed to hook me, once I reached the meat of the story, there was no turning back. A story of an elderly woman, a convicted felon, and an aspiring young doctor whose lives all come together as a result of the unexpected appearance of a child.
The setting of the novel, Blessings, a rural family retreat, is not only idyllic in location, but also a domicile of familial dysfunction, both past and present. Through careful unveiling, Quindlen highlights the tragedy associated with truths withheld over generations.
What was refreshing was the life, revitalization, and perspective of the female protagonist, Lydia. While philosophizing about life itself, she explains the tragedy of young death, the shock of middle-age death, and the inevitability of elderly death, how herstory, in essence, revolves around the loss of others. In addition, kudos to Quindlen for allowing the younger male and female in the novel to have meaningful interaction without the presence of romance.
For the purposes of book club, a picnic lunch near a creek much like Lydia shared with Benny and Sunny as adolescents complete with bacon sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, and a big Ball jar of lemonade may be the perfect conversation starter.