Days of Awe by Lauren Fox
Knopf Doubleday: 8/4/15
eBook review copy, 272 pages
Days of Awe by Lauren Fox is a very highly recommended novel
about loss and change. What Lauren Fox presents us with is a year in a
woman's life; a year of loss when her world and family is changing
Isabel Applebaum Moore and
Josie Abrams met as teachers at Rhodes
Avenue Middle School and quickly became best friends. Izzy even
introduced Josie to her childhood friend, Mark, and he and Josie
married. But now Josie has died in a car crash, leaving a hole in Izzy's
life. She is understandably full of grief, but on top of this, her
world begins falling apart. Izzy's marriage to Chris becomes full of
stress and Chris moves out, into his own apartment. Their 11 year old
daughter Hannah, who is also mourning Josie, must now deal with her
parent's separation. Added to this is the fact that Izzy's mother who
lives nearby, has had a stroke and Izzy can see that she is aging.
Izzy's overwhelming sadness as she grieves the loss of her friend is
understandable, but soon it becomes clear that she is grieving for much
more than this one unexpected death and her changing family. She is
grieving for the past that her mother, a Holocaust survivor, never talks
about except in hints. She is grieving for the lost children of all the
miscarriages she has had. She is angry at Mark for seemingly moving on
way-too-quickly to a new relationship with a woman who is the antithesis
of Josie. She is struggling with her previously adoring daughter
suddenly turning into a teen with an attitude and insomnia.
Izzy has been a dutiful daughter, wife, mother, and best friend. These
relationships have defined who she is for years. Now Izzy must come to
terms with who she really is, as well as some secrets about Josie that
she been unable to face.
In Izzy, Fox has created an amazing finely layered character. She can be
darkly funny, acerbic, and quick witted. She feels things deeply,
passionately, but not always openly. When she does comment, she has a
unique voice and an individual perspective on everything. Her struggles
are universal. Her relationships are all in transition. She is seeking
atonement, undertaking an introspective look at her life during this
year. (The title is a nod to the Jewish Days of Awe.) I totally
understood much of what she was experiencing and the depth of emotion
that Fox manages to convey is very true to life.
The writing in Days of Awe is exquisite, literary, and it
perfectly depicts an incredible character whose whole life is in
transition. This book had me staying up way too late to finish it, the
sign of a compelling story combined with great writing. I had one
quibble with it: the ending was way too pat for the rest of the book.
Many people liked it though, so this feeling is personal - and based on
personal experience. I won't say more, but it did knock it down a star
for me, until I decided I liked everything else about Days of Awe way too much to go that low.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Knopf Doubleday for review