Bright Before Us - Katie Arnold-Ratliff
I had to take my time in deciding how to rate this book, because by the time I was halfway through the book I was reasonably certain I would give it 3 stars, but at the time I finished it, I was inclined to give it 4. In the end, I settled on the higher rating because of how this story lingered in my mind and because of all the emotions I felt during and after reading. After all, isn't the point of a good book that it affect you in some way? Preferably in a positive way, but not necessarily. Even though the narrator, Frank was such an unsympathetic character (he was a cowardly, weaselly, lying, whiny little turd, and his wife deserved everything she got for putting up with him), I couldn't help feeling sorry for him in the end. It's impossible to grow up in the type of family environment he grew up in without becoming scarred. So he reached out and clung to something that made him feel normal, and when that didn't work out, well, it's impossible to suffer a loss like that without suffering after effects. It was the glimpses into his past made me want to keep reading to find out how his predicament would resolve. Also on the plus side, I suppose is the fact ending took me by complete surprise. It was not at all what I was expecting. Given the dark tone to the book, and the event that set off the chain of events that unfolded, I fully expected Frank would end up taking his own life. That's the ending I was prepared for; it would have given a clean ending to the story. Instead, I was left with the feeling that despair never ends.