The Rest of Her Life takes the reader into the life of a family whose lives are turned upside down in an instant. The book opens with Kara, a teenager who is about to graduate from high school and while driving makes a terrible mistake that changes the course of her life and those around her. This mistake also affects another teenager, Bethany and her family. I don't want to share all of the details of the story as it would give too much away.
The story is actually told through the eyes of Leigh, Kara's mother. Leigh was a complicated character but one that you got to know intimately as the story unfolds. I found the character development of this book outstanding. Leigh, grew up with her sister Pam and a narcissistic single mother who did her best which was truly not good enough for Leigh and Pam. As the story unfolds, we realize that as a mother, you may want what you "think" is best for your children and in reality you just may be repeating your own mothers mistakes. Leigh chose to go down a different path than her mother and made choices to go to college and married a respectable man, Gary who is a college professor. Leigh is a high school teacher and has a daughter, Kara and son, Justin who is twelve.
I found Leigh's character brutally honest and could relate to her as a mother and the depth of her honesty. She has isolated herself over the years and is not trusting of people and she has to confront all of her emotions when in one instant her daughters actions change the course of their lives completely. She must look at why her relationship with Kara is strained and why Kara instead turns to Gary, her father, for comfort instead of Leigh. Leigh must look at why her sister Pam is able to break through Kara's wall and even connect with Justin in a way that Leigh cannot. Justin is an awkward child and struggles socially and he is closer to Leigh who seems to understand him more than his father does.
This is a wonderful book about the complexities of motherhood, the relationships between mothers and daughter, mothers and sons and sisters. There is so much to this story that holds your attention as you read each page. I found the book enthralling and wanted to know what would happen next as we follow Leigh on this heartbreaking but cathartic journey. I found myself often stopping and wondering...What would I do in this situation? This is the kind of book that makes you think and assess your own choices and actions and how women grow and change from our roles as daughters to mothers.
This is an excellent book for a book club discussion. I actually got my copy several months ago from Book Club Girl when they were hosting their Book Club Girl Book Club discussion with Laura Moriarty. You can listen to the interesting BlogTalkRadio discussion with Laura Moriarty, here I was unable to get the book read to be part of the discussion and then my book club chose the book for our meeting this month. We met this week to discuss the book, and I have to share that we met on a perfect night with beautiful weather. My friend who hosted has a pool and we sat on her patio around the pool with the sun setting and the sound of her fountain going. It was a perfect night, with great friends, great appetizers and of course, wine and dessert to complement the great book discussion we had. We had a wonderful discussion about the book, the characters and who liked which ones and even which ones we didn't like...we all had different viewpoints and perspectives which made it so interesting. We talked about what we would do in the situation Kara and Leigh were in and how things change as our kids grow and especially the teenage years. We are all moms and have kids aged from preschoolers through to adulthood. The moms that have gone through the teenage years were able to share some interesting perspectives and suggestions for those of us who haven't gone through this stage yet. Oh boy, we have a lot ahead of us!! If you haven't read this book yet, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of The Rest of Her Life, here.
About the author Laura Moriarty:
(From Laura Moriarty's website)
Laura Moriarty earned a degree in social work before returning for her M.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Kansas. She was the recipient of the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. She currently lives with her daughter in Lawrence, Kansas, and is at work on her next novel.
Her next novel is While I’m Falling, set to release August 4, 2009.