Monday, February 25, 2008

The Rest of Her Life

Laura Moriarty's second novel, The Rest of Her Life, is even more impressive than her first, The Center of Everything. In spite of her hard childhood, Leigh Churchill manages to have the life of stability she could only dream of as a child. She and her husband and two children are living in a small Kansas town where her husband is an English professor at the college and she teaches English at the Junior High. While Justin, her younger son, struggles to find friends and his way to fit in, Kara, her oldest daughter, is seemingly the golden child whose only strained relationship is with her mother. The book opens up when, after in a moment of inattentive driving, Kara accidentally hits and kills another student. Moriarty's novel deals with the aftermath of this tragedy. While Leigh isn't always a sympathetic character, she is a real one and the ability to truly depict a person is Moriarty's gift. I'm expecting even better novels from Moriarty in the future. She's not quite there yet, but she's darn close. Part of my appreciation of Moriarty could be because she lives in the same area of the country in which I'm currently living. I think she's captured the feeling of this location. The Rest of Her Life was published in 2007 and is 303 pages. Highly recommended; Rating:4


First sentence: "Several times that summer, Leigh further tormented herself by considering all the ways the accident might never have happened." pg. 1

"...her gaze could also seem condescending, as if she were observing her mother not just from a physical height, but a moral one, with equal parts humor and pity." pg. 16

"...they lived in a small football-crazed town that made it clear, in so many ways, that it had no use for boys like him. He did not like contact sports." pg. 20

" 'You know, I've spent a good eighteen years doing nothing but working for you girls.' She tapped out her cigarette on a saucer and stood up. 'I've never gotten to live the way I wanted. You don't know anything about that.' " pg. 75

" 'So if people are... you know... mean or something, the other kids, I just think, It's because I'm from the future. They're laughing because they don't know things I know. They don't know them yet.' " pg. 106

"It seemed so right, she thought, to hurt him. After all these years, for all these years, he had misunderstood her so completely. she was sure of it. She was." pg. 115

"Christianity was like Amway - you didn't bring it up with a true believer unless you wanted in or were ready to ward off a serious sales pitch." pg. 193

"She was within thirty feet of the four people she loved most in the world, and she'd never felt more alone." pg. 207

"It was a mistake, Leigh considered, to confuse placidity with stupidity, to think that because one doesn't react, one doesn't feel, or know. And it was probably a mistake to assume that because one had put up with other people's crap her entire life, she would continue to put up with it forever." pg. 213

"We all have our trifling comparisons, she considered, our weak attempts to feel each other's burdens." pg. 243

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