Monday, August 04, 2008

Review: Aberrations by Penelope Przekop

"It's a sudden loss of muscle control," is how I would always begin, feeling cornered, "while remaining conscious. It's as if your body's faintin' but you're not." [ pg 24]

Aberrations by Penelope Przekop
Emerald Book Co, 2008
Fiction; 241 pgs

Angel Duet is 21 and everything she believed and thought she knew is about to change. Things couldn't be worse when her father's girlfriend, Carla, moves in, making her mark by taking down all of the photographs taken by Angel's mother. The photos are the only material things that Angel really has to connect her to the woman she lost many years ago.

Angel feels like she is sleep walking through life. She puts much of the blame on the absence of her mother and the neurological condition from which she suffers: narcolepsy. Her narcolepsy controls so much of what she does and how she reacts, making it impossible for her to live like a "normal" person, or so she believes. She wants more than that for herself, however. Angel wants to break away from the rut she is in and wants to experience what it is to truly live.

Her father tried, in his own way, to be the best father he knew how to be to his daughter. The grief that came with having lost the woman he loved permeated their lives. His lies to protect Angel have never quite filled the void inside Angel, and now, more than anything, she wants to know the truth.

Taking a summer job working in the cotton fields, Angel makes two unlikely friends. Kimmy, the 26 year old virgin, is not so different than Angel, feeling stuck in a rut, barely living life, and longing for something more, something different. Tim has his own secret, which he is bursting to share. He is gay, feeling stifled by his hometown and society, and is tired of the prejudice and secrecy surrounding him. Tim opens a door into a world that neither Kimmy nor Angel had ever imagined stepping into. He offers them hope, but not quite in the way any of them, or even the reader, could have anticipated.

Angel felt lost and empty most of her life. She comes across as immature and selfish at first, but by the end of the novel, she has made great strides in coming into her own. In a way, this is a coming of age story about a young woman who only needed to find her way. The void she feels inside is not something that can be filled by something on the outside. It has to come from within. Angel’s decisions are not always the best ones, but as with all mistakes, she can only hope that she learns from them and is able move forward.

Aberrations is rich in characterization, each character complex and flawed, beautiful and ugly. The characters are so wrapped up in their own problems that they are not always able to see how similar their struggles are to those around them. Each of them has their own secrets and created their own lies. Secrets and lies have a way of spilling out no matter how hard a person tries to contain them. The mess left behind is not always so easy to forgive or accept.

Minor Spoiler Alert Begins Here

Although at first I was not sure what to think of Carla, she eventually came to be my favorite character in the novel. She was an outsider on the inside and her insight and dedication to the broken Duet family was steadfast. Mac was another one that grew on me as time went on, despite the fact that he was cheating on his wife. He came across as confident and sure of himself, and yet that was only a mask for what lay underneath. One of the saddest characters in the novel is Tim, who in the beginning seems to be the most together of the bunch. As Kimmy and Angel come into their own, growing as individuals, he stays much the same throughout the book. What once Angel most admired in Tim, was what eventually she came to recognize as biggest downfall.

Minor Spoiler Alert Ends Here

The writing is beautiful and I liked how the author added a Southern touch to the dialogue, least the reader forget where the novel is set. It actually takes place during the early 1980's in Louisiana. It seems the perfect setting for this poignant story about love, family, friendship, forgiveness and redemption.

Aberrations was not quite what I expected. It was deeper and more satisfying. At times it was tragic but above all it was hopeful.

Rating: * (Very Good)

Be sure and stop by Penelope Przekop's website for more information about the author and her book.

Read what others had to say about this book:
Allison's Attic of Books
Cheryl's Book Nook
Devourer of Books
Experiments in Reading
Kathleen's Book Reviews
Leafing Through Life
The Literate Housewife Review
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
Traci's Book bag


  1. I really enjoyed your review. I ended up liking Carla quite a bit as well, which really surprised me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. This sounds like the book I'd want to read. Thanks for the review, Wendy! BTW, I love the cover. :)

  3. Ahhhhh... another one into my wish list. Thanks for the great review! Like Melody, I like the cover too. :)

  4. Thanks for a great review of Aberrations! Part of my strategy in writing Aberrations was to illuminate how, just like in life, people sometimes turn out to be different that who we think they are. In line with this, I also wanted to show how some people are changing all around us, and some people aren't. I loved reading your comments about Carla and Mac! Thanks!

  5. I agree about Carla - she is annoying at first, but she grows on you just as she grew on Angel. I loved the character development in the novel as well. Glad to read that you liked the book!

  6. I don't know that this is one I'll read, but it sounds interesting. I sometimes have a difficult time with novels where the characters are completely absorbed in their own problems. It definitely makes for good reading, but I always get so frustrated with them!

  7. What an interesting mix of characters! I have never read anything in which a character is narcoleptic. I like stories that involve an unlikely group of friends!

  8. I'm adding it to my wish list - thanks for the review!

  9. I once taught a young man who had narcolepsy; fortunately, he was bright and social, so with the aid of friends, he always managed. Still it was a strange experience, knowing that he was only conscious part of the time he was in class. Friends would nudge him occasionally, but sometimes he wouldn't respond.

  10. This sounds very interesting. Another one for the TBR! I'm curious, how do you pronounce the author's last name?

  11. I love that cover - It must be the blue flower. Great review Wendy. I'm adding this one to my radar!

  12. Hey Wendy!

    Totally off-topic, but I noticed you mentioned you're hoping to get your mitts on a copy of Matrimony, in your last post. I'm going to have a drawing in honor of the paperback release, on August 26. The sticky post will go up in about 10 days, so make a note on your calendar and maybe you can win one. Worth a try, right? :)

  13. Sounds like this one was better than you expected--I love when that happens! I'll have to keep my eye open for this one--it seems as though there are a lot of reviews of it out there but I haven't heard of it until now. I've always loved the word abberation. Maybe not for its definition but the sound of it. Weird, I know. :)

  14. Just wanted to say that I love visiting your blog...I'm always adding something to the TBR list. So on to the list this one goes :) Thanks!

  15. Ruth - Thank you! It was easy to doubt Carla in the beginning because the story was told from Angel's perspective, and Angel had relatively strong feelings about her at the time. I definitely think she turned out to be one of the biggest strengths for Angel and her father in the end.

    Melody - It is a great cover, isn't it? I do hope you will get a chance to read it.

    Alice - How long is that wish list now? :-)

    Penelope - Thank you so much for stopping by! You did a marvelous job at showing the different sides of your characters through Angel's eyes--how things (and people) are not always what they seem. I really liked the way you set it all up--having some characters change and others stay in the same place--especially considering where they were at the beginning. And how true to life! I was really struck by this especially in the novel, especially in regards to Tim, Kimmy and Angel.

    Meghan - I definitely would like to go back to this book down the road. There was so much to the story and to the characters.

    Charley - I find that to be true in some instances too, although not in this case--at least not for me. I really think it depends on how it is done and how well it is tied into the storyline. Add to that realism. I think Penelope did a good job with her characters in that regard. I think all humans are a bit self-absorbed to some degree, especially when it comes to dealing with our problems. It wasn't that the characters were conceited or arrogant, only that they had so much going on in their lives that they felt alone and misunderstood, which is something I think we all feel at one point or another.

  16. Laura - I had never read a book with a character who has narcopelpsy either. Even with a relative who suffers from the disorder, I felt like I learned something about it from reading this book just the same.

    Carrie K. - I hope you will enjoy it!

    Jenclair - It is too bad that the fictional Angel couldn't have met your real life student! I think she used her narcolepsy as a crutch. More often than not, when she suffered from a bout, she was conscious of what was going on around her, she just couldn't react to outside stimuli. I wonder if that was the same way for your student or if he really was unconscious at that point.

    Jeane - It definitely is an interesting book and very well written. I'm so glad I got the chance to read it.

    Iliana - Thank you! I love the cover too.

    Jen - Thank you!

    Nancy - Thanks for letting me know. I actually have a copy of the book. I won a signed copy in a drawing at the beginning of the year from Dewey. :-)

    Trish - I like the word abberation too. And it's a fitting title for the book. :-)

    Samantha - Thank you so much! The blogging community has been so *bad* for me in regards to increasing the number of books in my TBR collection. Haha

  17. Wow, this sounds like a great book. Intense, but very good. I will have to keep my eye out for it. Great review!

  18. April - Thank you. It was good. I hope you do get the chance to read it.


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.