Book Crossing bookczuk in Charleston, South Carolina wrote the below review! Scroll down further to see a picture of “Alice Bliss” during a dry moment of Hurricane Irene!
Alice Bliss broke my heart. The story is a simple one: Alice Bliss is the elder of two daughters in a close family. Her beloved father is sent to Iraq when his National Guard unit is called to active duty. What follows is the story of how the family he left behind learns to cope with his absence. Laura Harrington allows the reader to enter into the minds of Alice, her family and some friends. The love is palpable, though individual emotions are not always understood or recognized by those concerned. Having lived through horrific loss, I understand the importance of clinging to hope and clutching at ritual. Alice struggles with her father’s absence, trying so hard to hold on to what they did together, or to keeping him alive in her life. Part of me screamed that no one in her school, besides her friend Henry, seemed to know her father was serving in Iraq. That seemed so wrong, especially since it was oh, so likely that the outcome in this case might not be a happy reunion. But Alice Bliss is about positive outcomes, about digging deep and finding reserves in yourself and those you love.
I found the characters in this novel extremely well drawn. I wonder if that is due, in part, to the fact that the author did a stage production of which the book is an outshoot. When you play a character, your psyche absorbs so much. Ms Harrington was able to translate this into the novel. I also marveled at the beautiful letters Alice’s father wrote to his wife and daughters. I’ve recently been going through letters of my family, and wish that some of them had some of the eloquence and elegance of the letters penned by Matt.
The author has started a wonderful campaign to track where Alice Bliss travels around the world. The book I received was one of the inaugural books sent out on the where’s Alice Bliss initiative. I took my copy down to the Battery and White Point Gardens, here in Charleston and took pictures. It seemed a good setting, as The Battery was also a focal point in another war that tore at the hearts of families. There were some moments in the last bit of this book that were so evocative, so beautiful, that I had to pause to absorb them. But I don’t want to give spoilers, so I shall refrain for now. Though there are tough emotions in the novel, I ultimately feel it is one of hope. And, I feel it realistic, timely, informative, and well-crafted. Happy ending are not always what we imagine. They are what we make with the hand we are dealt.
The above image is a dry moment during Hurricane Irene! After bookczuk was done she handed Alice off to her friend, a fellow Book Crosser, in Somerville, South Carolina! We’ll see how far it goes!