"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

18 April 2017

2017 Book Review #14: Miller's Valley

The author of this book used to be a journalist and I used to read her column in the NY Times when I was first married.

I've read many of her novels and all of them have been excellent.

This one is no exception although not my favorite one.

STORY SUMMARY

The Miller family has lived for many generations in the valley which is a small American town that is about to experience some major changes.  The story begins in the 1960s and goes into the 1970s and most of the book is during that time until the voice of Mimi Miller, a young girl at the beginning, is in her mid-60s in the 1990s.

Mimi has two older brothers:  Eddie who went away to college, and Tommy, a "free spirit" type of high schooler.  Mimi and Tommy live with their parents on the family farm.  Aunt Ruth, who never leaves her house, lives in the little house on their property, behind their own home.

Mimi observes people around her...particularly her family members and as she grows, she discovers things like the poison of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, problems in marriage, and the imbalance of friendships.  She also learns about the risks to love, loyalty, and passion.

She also learns what the government really wants to do with Miller's Valley!!  What will happen to her beloved hometown?

Mimi learns that "home can be a place where it's just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel contented."

Mimi's mother is a full time nurse and struggles with keeping her family together.  Tommy becomes a different person after signing up to serve in the Vietnam War and her sister, known as Aunt Ruth, continues to act traumatized by some kind of mysterious memory.  Her husband tries to balance two worlds and Mimi's mother realizes that she wants a different life for Mimi.  Mimi must escape from the town to find her own way in life.

As Mimi grows up and becomes college-aged, she learns just how very fragile life can be....and how fragile yet exciting following dreams can be.

MY THOUGHTS

It's been awhile since I've read one of this author's books and I thoroughly enjoyed it like all the previous ones I've read.  

This book deals with family, loss, memory, friendship, and discovering a new identity or embracing who you really are.

The characters are all very believable and real and very "small town USA".

At first I thought the author was depicting the small town to the north-west of where I live which really did have a resevoir/dam built and flooded an entire village, which to this day, you can still "feel" under your feet if you stand in certain parts of the lake.


The story has a definite feel of "matriarchal strength" to it.  The mother is the strong one....Dad (known as Bud) just does odd jobs and tries to run a farm but the farm really is no longer a working farm.  The story takes a turn when Bud has a stroke.

Another character whom I really liked was Mimi's childhood friend Donald....this relationship is special and the way they come together at the end of the story is very well done.

This book teaches that no matter where you go in life, your childhood home...your hometown....will always be a part of your heart.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.



1 comment:

Susanne said...

I like stories set in this time period so I'll have to check this one out.