Monday, April 18, 2022

Book Review: What We Give, What We Take

Are you completely full of jelly beans? I am! I can't even say I ate them just yesterday, I've been eating Sweet Tart jelly beans for months now because even at 40 years old, I have zero self control. Let's start the week off with a book review though. 

What We Give, What We Take - Randi Triant

In 1967, Fay Stonewell, a water tank escape artist in Florida, leaves for Vietnam to join the Amazing Humans—a jerry-rigged carnival there to entertain the troops—abandoning her disabled teenage son, Dickie, to the care of an abusive boyfriend.

Months after Fay’s departure, Dickie’s troubled home life ends in a surprising act of violence that forces him to run away. He soon lands in Manhattan, where he’s taken in by eccentric artist Laurence Jones. Fay, meanwhile, is also facing dangerous threats. From the night her plane jolts onto a darkened Saigon runway, she is forced to confront every bad decision she’s ever made as she struggles to return to her son. But the Humans owner is hell-bent on keeping her in Vietnam, performing only for war-injured children at a hospital, daily reminders of the son she’s left behind.

Decades later, Dickie is forty, living in a Massachusetts coastal town with a man who’s dying of AIDS, and doing everything he can to escape his past. But although Spin may be giving Dickie what he’s always wanted—a home without wheels—it seems that the farther Dickie runs, the tighter the past clings to him.

Ultimately, What We Give, What We Take is a deeply moving story of second chances and rising above family circumstances, however dysfunctional they may be.

Wow, wow, wow. I honestly don't know if I can do this book any justice because it was just so good. It's such an incredible picture of a dysfunctional family, at best, but also the complications of second chances, but also shows us that our past never really escapes us. I also honestly don't want to talk too much about this because I went into this knowing nothing about it (aside from the description on the back) and I think that was really for the best. Having each event pop up when it does and watching how it plays out for both Dickie (the son) and Fay (his mom), even when they are separate, it was so interesting. I had such a hard time putting this one down, so I ended up getting through this book over the course of two days and it was so good. 

You have to go into this knowing it will be an absolute emotional rollercoaster and even at the end I felt like I needed to just think about it, and put some time in between my next book. It also has a suspense thread running through it, which I didn't expect but I really loved it. I also liked that the author wasn't afraid to really tackle the HIV/AIDS crisis and everything that came with that. As a mother I struggled, but also understood, Fay's ambivalence towards motherhood but I definitely can't understand the choices she made, so that alone was fascinating to me. Even at the end, I feel like I should understand her better but I really don't. The story is completely heartbreaking, and it isn't really about redemption, but this would make an amazing book club read. I feel like this would give you so many discussion points but also everyone is going to feel differently about it, I suppose given your own life experiences. 

Overall, this was a fascinating read that you absolutely should pick up if you're in need of an emotional rollercoaster. Thank you to She Writes Press for sending me a copy for review, this was definitely 4 stars. No question.  

1 comment:

Laura's Reviews said...

Wow - this sounds really good and so unique. I'm adding it to my list!