Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Good Luck Knot by Melissa Field

Summary (from the author):

A year has passed since Jordan hit rock bottom and ended up having her stomach pumped. She swears to everyone she's changed and suicide is no longer first on her to do list. So maybe she still smokes a lot of weed and carries a flask around, but still, she's changed, and she's really getting fed up with the constant questioning. She wishes everyone could see what she does – that she's found love with Guatam and he's helping her get on with her life.

It isn't until Gautam betrays her and the relationship implodes that she begins to worry herself. She cannot stay in the same small town she grew up in and maintain the image that everything is okay. She needs to get away and clear her head. Far away. Like maybe to the farthest place on Earth. When she announces she's taking a job in Antarctica her friends beg her to stay. No one wants her to be so far away and alone. It doesn't matter though. She's going.

Six months there pass too quickly. Something has changed inside her and awakened a need to understand. She needs to understand herself, her decisions, her family, her past, life, God, death, all of it. Why was she so ready to die? Why is she now so ready to live? She cannot go home until she understands something, anything. Because if she can't find out the how's and why's she might end up right back where she started, with a beer in one hand and a razor to cut her arm in the other.

Bali, Alaska, and Mongolia are amongst the places she travels to while seeking hope and answers. Being so far away gives her perspective on her life and the people in it. She can suddenly see now what she's put everyone through, and a new fear settles into her. What if she finds all of her answers, but returns home to people who are fed up with her unstable ways?

The Good Luck Knot is a book about hope, love, forgiveness and finding ourselves in the most unexpected ways. It begins with a metaphor assimilating a person’s life path to the folding of a paper crane. Each chapter is a fold, and the book goes back and forth in time, itself a reflection of the origami metaphor. Just as a paper crane folds into itself, showing no beginning or end, The Good Luck Knot’s final chapter connects to the first, reflecting this endless flow. Jordan’s search for herself, God and love in a seemingly random Universe ties into this, and the paper crane is a theme in many chapters.

And here's what I thought:   I was contacted by the author for a review of her book, and while this didn't sound like my usual read, I agreed to give it a try.  What I found when I read this book was that there were parts that I found interesting, but that the book didn't really catch me.  However --- please note that this is the kind of book that I think readers either have a very personal connection to, or it just doesn't resonate with them.  So, let me explain.

While this book is fiction, it reads like a very personal story.   I felt like there was less a storyline running through the book than a continuous exploration by Jordan to discover more about herself, and where her life was headed.   There were times when I felt like I was almost too privy to what was going on in Jordan's mind and because I didn't always feel like I connected to her, it was a bit distracting ---- kind of like when you're having a conversation with someone you don't know very well, and they tell you way too much about something personal to them.

There are some things about this book that I did like.  The author, herself, has traveled quite extensively, and those parts of the story read very clearly --- I can tell that she is familiar with these places.   I liked her use of the paper crane as a metaphor in the book --- as you can see from her summary, the crane folds over into itself, and the storyline in this book does the same.  Once you get used to the bit of back-and-forth in time that sometimes happens, it does all come together.  

While I didn't feel a strong connection to Jordan, I found her to be interesting.   Because we learn about her through her experiences, and basically get into her head, you get a very direct approach to the main character.  At times, I found this to be a bit exhausting, and I think it's just the way I reacted to Jordan --- and again, this is a very personal reaction.  I am sure there are other readers who will make a connection with this character and really enjoy the book.  Just because it didn't happen for me is not really the fault of the author.

So, I'm giving this the rating I'm giving it just because I wasn't that wild about it.  It wasn't really anything in particular that I didn't like --- it's more like trying a new food, and thinking, hmmmm.... interesting.....  but I'd rather have something else.   Hopefully, that makes sense, and if this book sounds good to you, you'll give it a try.

First sentences:   She stared at the small paper crane, following the creases up and around.  It sat in her palm, perched on the lifeline wrinkle.  She turned her head up, her arm relaxed.  The crane fell beside her into the grass.  Her gaze went up, higher and higher, deep into the crown of the maple tree.  A cool breeze passed through the field.  A shiver went up her as leaves rustled.  Her eyes closed.  She listened.

Thoughts on the cover:  Definitely pretty, but I would have gone with some kind of image of a paper crane, since it figures heavily in this story.  This cover art does have what look like looped threads, so I like that, but I'd still go with a crane or cranes.

If you'd like to learn more about the author, she is on GoodReads, where you may also find information and more reviews on this book.
Author Melissa Field


Jo K said...

I like a good book that involves telling about travelling,e specially if it is obvious the author knows the places well. To me, the summary alone sounds very personal, an in case of such books the connection with the main character is important to me too. Great review!

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