Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Review: Caught by Deirdre Thurston

Deirdre Thurston's collection of essays and short stories is a delightful escape for summer reading. A combination of universal themes of friendship, love and loss, guilt and memories overlaid with a strong dose of New Zealand phraseology takes the reader down familiar paths that often end with an unusual twist.

"Love Story," a nostalgic memory of a grandmother, is triggered by an elderly couple who sit next to the narrator in a movie theater. From the way the woman is dressed to the scent of talc, the narrator indulges is a series of memories, often wondering if the woman sitting near her has similar memories.

"Mae" takes the reader into a family tragedy where a child dies in a hot bath. Here the narrator faces guilt at the loss of her younger sister. Events from decades earlier still color the narrator's memory of that dreadful day.

"Ali" brings two best friends together to catch up on their lives. One is married, a bit dumpy and settled; the other is oft-married, elegant and in love with a long-distance trucker.

Painful memories of birthdays past where narrators don't receive recognition or gifts they want. Celebrations of a daughter turning twenty-one. A longing to learn to ride a bike when the narrator thinks she's too old and plump. Each story, each essay is a small gem waiting for you to find and polish it.

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