Sunday, May 10, 2009

Review: Precious by Sandra Novack

To find someone suddenly gone, to see them one day and not know that this will be the last day you see them, to not have the moment register until hours, days later, or years, is never easy. How we catch ourselves as life moves forward, thinking about that last moment and about what we might have done differently, if only we'd known. [pg 110]

Precious by Sandra Novack
Random House, 2009
Fiction; 274 pgs

Where to begin? From the moment I first entered the world Sandra Novack created in Precious, I was in awe. The novel is beautifully written, lyrical even. At the very heart of the novel is the characters, each one weighed down by the events in their lives which have seemingly swallowed them whole. It is impossible to summarize this book succinctly. There are so many threads running through the novel. A mother who feels trapped in her life and neglected by her husband runs off, leaving behind her husband and two daughters. The repercussions of her actions have grave consequences. The oldest daughter, Eva, finds comfort in sex, taking up an affair with her married high school teacher who is going through his own marital crisis. Nine-year-old Sissy escapes into fantasy, often mixing her day dreams with reality. Frank, the girls' father, is caught up in his own anger and frustration. He is just going through the motions, unable to be there for his daughters in the way they need him to be.

Add to that the sudden disappearance of a young girl in their small Pennsylvania town, which only increases the tensions already surrounding the family. Ginny Anderson, the mother of the missing girl, turns further inward, closing herself off from the rest of the world. Her connection to the Kisch family is twofold. Sissy and the missing girl, Vicki, had been good friends as had Sissy's mother, Natalia, and Ginny.

Natalia's return sets off an entirely new set of consequences for her family. So much has changed in the few months she had been gone.

There is so much to this novel. Each of the characters is flawed and their emotions are raw. Author Sandra Novack captures that so eloquently. One thing I found frustrating and yet so utterly true to life was how alone the characters felt. There were moments when they would come together, share in their pain and grief, but those moments were fleeting. Instead they each stood very much apart from one another, coping in their own ways. How many times did I want to reach out and hug Eva and Sissy?

Abandonment and loss are the two major themes of the novel. Within each of their lives, the characters struggle to deal with their own feelings of loss. The role of family as well as that of love also play a part. The Kisch family and the other various characters in the novel are faced with family crises that test their resolve, make them question their own realities, including the people they hold most dear.

The novel takes place in the summer of 1978, a time period that is quite significant to the setting of the book. The steel industry is showing signs of distress, the effects of the Vietnam War still linger, and it is a time when parents are less afraid for their children's safety--at least until something unimaginable happens to change all that. Natalia's own history as an immigrant child who lost her family during the Holocaust, herself having once lived in a concentration camp, colors her desires and perceptions of the day. Her family were Hungarian gypsies and she still carries bits of that with her. There were so many little threads like these which I would have liked to explore further, but Precious is not the book in which to do that. In this instance, such details helped fill out the characters and bring the story more fully to life.

I enjoyed Precious immensely. It took me a little while to get into it only because I wasn't able to devote much time to reading it at first. Once I was able to sit down and really get into it, I couldn't stop reading. I became a part of the story, my heart ached for so many of the characters--a sure sign that the book got under my skin and stole my heart. This was one of those books I hated to see come to an end.

Rating: * (Very Good +)

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: ARC Challenge, New Authors Challenge & 2009 Pub Challenge

Check out Sandra Novack's website for more information about the author and her book. You can find excerpts from her novel, Precious, as well as a Q&A with the author which is not to be missed. You can also visit the author at her blog: No Name Writer.

Many thanks to author Sandra Novack and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour.

Sandra Novack's TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, May 4th: Fizzy Thoughts
Wednesday, May 6th: Book, Line, and Sinker
Thursday, May 7th: Redlady’s Reading Room
Wednesday, May 13th: Bookworm with a View
Thursday, May 14th: Pop Culture Junkie
Monday, May 18th: Literate Housewife
Friday, May 22nd: Booking Mama
Tuesday, May 26th: Book Addiction
Friday, May 29th: Diary of an Eccentric


  1. This novel has so much packed into it. Abandonment and loss are very difficult themes to portray and I would definitely be interested in reading it. I love the cover too.

  2. Excellent review, and quite convincing. I love to lose myself in a book, even if it is filled with heartache. I'm about to finish one of those myself. I'll need to pick up something light to read next!

  3. This book sounds so good - I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Violet - There is a lot too it and yet the author does such a great job that it never feels overwhelming. Everything fits together so well. The themes of loss and abandonment are everywhere in this book, even in the tiniest of details. That was just one of the things that made me appreciate the book even more. The author was able to weave in the themes so naturally. The cover is great, isn't it? I like it too.

    Sandy - Thanks, Sandy. I was dealing with a sick dog all weekend and so didn't get to put as much into the review as I would have liked. I at least hope I was able to get across how wonderful I thought the book was. It was a very sad book, but at the same time, I think there was also a sense of hope to certain aspects of the story, although definitely not all. But then, that wouldn't be very realistic, would it? I am so glad I had the chance to read this book.

    Kathy - It was very good. I am so glad I read it.

  5. Another great review from you, Wendy. I love books that draw me in and kept me reading until the end. I'm glad this one did the same for you.

    I voted, by the way! :D

  6. This book sounds good, and the cover is very pretty too.

  7. Alice - Thank you. I especially like books that can draw me in so completely too. I am reading another one like that right now. Unfortunately though, I need to get to work.

    Diane - It's a great cover for the book--very fitting. And what's inside is even better. :-)

  8. I added this one to my TBR list instantly after reading your review. It sounds like an amazing read :)

  9. Lovely review - I'm definitely adding this one to my wish list. Completely off-topic, have you read Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos yet? I haven't managed to get ahold of a copy yet, but was wondering if it was as good as Broken for You.

  10. This one sounds right up my alley, and on the wish list it goes! Thanks for an excellent review, Wendy.

  11. Oh, I got an ARC of this and just ADORED it!! So sad, and so real -- I'm so glad you're telling people about it. - Clea

  12. Great review, Wendy; you've definitely made me want to pick up this book!

  13. Thanks so much for the review, Bookish Kitty! (And, I voted! ;)

    All Best,
    Sandy Novack

  14. This one sounds really good! Thanks for the rec!

    (Life by Candlelight)

  15. This is on my TBR List. It's great to see another very positive review. :)

  16. Sounds very good...another for my TBR pile!

  17. You just added another book to my TBR. Shame on you Wendy! LOL!

    Sounds awesome!

  18. Just came from the Bumble's blog. And I voted. I prefer Literary Feline though it's more poetic than Bookish Kitty. That would sound more "cutesey" or girlie. Anyway seems like my vote is not enough for 4 days to go.

  19. Teddy, Myckyee,Joy, Amy, Avis,,Florinda, and Samantha - Thank you! I hope you all will get a chance to read it. :-)

    Carrie K. - Thank you! I haven't read Sing Them Home and don't even have my own copy, if you can believe it (how I've resisted, I haven't a clue!). That's a book I'm really really looking forward to reading though. I've read mostly good things about it, but also some not so good stuff.

    Clea - I am glad to hear that you really liked it too, Clea. It really was a sad book, and as you said, so real.

    Sandra - Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the book tour. I love discovering new authors and your name is definitely on my must read list now. Thanks for voting!

    Daisy - Thank you for voting, Daisy. :-) I appreciate everyone's input. My husband refuses to tell me which he prefers until the poll is over. I keep trying to weasel it out of him though.

  20. Great review! It sounds like an amazing book and 4 1/2 stars is high praise for you. Oh and I voted too!

  21. Wonderful review, Wendy! Thanks so much for all the energy you put into reading and reviewing this book for TLC! We appreciate it so much.

  22. I haven't seen a bad review of this one yet. I'd love to read it. Another really great review!

  23. I'm not crazy about missing children books as they're usually really sad but I'm glad you enjoyed it so much!

  24. This looks great. I'm adding it to my list.

  25. What a great review! I'm the last stop on the tour, and I'll be reading this soon. I can't wait!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  26. Jaimie - Thanks! It really is a good book. One of the best I've read this year so far. And thank you for voting!

    Lisa MM - Thank you! And thank you for letting me be a part of the tour!

    Dar - It is getting a lot of good reviews, isn't it? At least in my opinion, it deserves every one. :-) Thanks!

    Jen - I know what you mean. It is a difficult subject to read about. I imagine this is one of those books that definitely won't be for everyone.

    Laza - I hope you like it if you do read it! :-)

    Anna - I look forward to reading your thoughts on the book, Anna!

  27. Thanks for the fabulous review, this sounds wonderful! I'm adding it to my wish list right now!

  28. Nat - Thank you, Nat. I hope you enjoy it when you do read it!

  29. Sandra has a short story in the recently released Philly Fiction 2.


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