Dorothea's father, like all good parents, wanted to keep his children safe. But unlike other parents, Charles O'Brien believed the only way to do so was to leave everything behind, including his very successful life. In a rocky, desolate corner of New Mexico, on a 35 acre estate he called the "Sanctuary," Charles raised the children in complete isolation, with books and encyclopedias, records and a grand piano, but no television, computer, radio, or even a newspaper. Now, Dorothea, at 23, is leaving this place for the first time, in search of her missing brother - and venturing into the world. Dorothea's search will turn into an odyssey of discovery, leading to the truth of her family's past and the terrifying day that changed her father forever. But Dorothea's journey will also introduce her to an unusual cast of characters, including a homeless girl from Missouri who becomes a jazz singer and a doctor turned cabdriver who has suffered his own losses. Together, they have a chance to make a discovery of a different kind: that though a heart can be broken by the tragic events of a day, a day can also bring a new chance at love and a deeper understanding of life's infinite possibilities.More
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Deep & Interesting book - BUT violent rape attempt
I thought about reading this book for a long time. The central theme – about how a pivotal moment can change lives made me want to write an essay. I was interested in how the book seemed to stir up some debate on whether it was a good “book club book”. My opinion is that although the theme is hard to dispute there is certainly a lot to say about the decisions various people make, the inevitability of certain things - and whether you like or dislike the various characters.
What held me back for a long time from reading this is that I knew the book had a violent rape scene (technically it is an attempted rape, but extremely violent) I kept deciding not to read it. I finally went into a bookstore and read the offending scene which was easy enough to find while skimming and decided I could handle it. Having read the whole book now, it certainly could have been less gruesome, but it avoids a lot of the stuff I am trying to avoid by avoiding rape books since the victim isn't actually raped. The book involves a boy and girl raised to adulthood on an isolated estate named "The Sanctuary" by their father - who is so paranoid about their safety that they aren't even allowed to have a swing. At age 25, the boy heads out in the world and his 23 year old sister follows in search of him. The book mostly follows this girl, Dorothea.
The other parts of the book tell the story of the past from the point of view of Dorothea's mother Lucy, who isn't dead like Dorothea was told. Lucy is an actress so her parts of the story are about Hollywood to some extent. I think I would have avoided the book if I knew that because I don't usually find movie stars interesting but really the book is so focused on the family that it is okay that it has the Hollywood setting. So we see Dorothea's father from her adoring view and from the view of his wife before and after he kidnaps their children. That character Charles is probably the most controversial and would provide the most material for book club discussion. Is he evil? Why does he steal the children? Would they have been better off if he hadn't stolen them or not? Etc.
I am not sure what other people would get from this book. It had a weird effect on me. When Lucy's children are stolen, her son is 6 and her daughter is 4. His memories of her are fragmented and hers are non existent almost. That seemed so sad. Additionally, it gave me a new appreciation of time with my kids. What this book managed to say to me personally was that my focus was wrong. Enjoying things not being worse implies that they are bad. They are not bad they are actually good. Having my sweet children is a good thing, a wonderful thing that has been overshadowed by the bad thing – in my case my son’s autism. That thing should not be preventing enjoying their childhoods. The bad thing would be not getting that opportunity. I wonder if Lisa Tucker even knows she said all that - probably not. :-)
I should warn people though that sheltered innocent goody-goody daddy-worshipping Dorothea is perhaps one of the most annoying people ever - especially when you have to listen to her and hear her little voice. It became somewhat less annoying when we get to know Lucy who is by nature an innocent goody-goody but doesn't get to turn into a Dorothea because the world doesn't allow it. My view of the story is somewhat colored by my strong preference for Lucy over the other characters. I would have preferred a somewhat different ending as well. As often happens the end doesn't give me quite enough of what the story is building up to all along.
- Karen K