Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review: In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

I really enjoyed Emily Aresenault's The Broken Teaglass when I read it a few years ago, so when I realized In Search of the Rose Notes was by her as well I was really excited to read it. It took me awhile, but I finished it this past weekend and I really enjoyed it.

In Search of the Rose Notes is kind of a mystery--in that Rose disappeared many years ago and no one knows what happened to her until her bones are discovered. This opens up a lot of memories for Nora, the protagonist, as she returns to her hometown and also attempts to reconcile with her childhood friend Charlotte. They used to love to look at Time Life books that dealt with the paranormal and afterlife--their childhood investigation of these books is woven throughout the main story and casts a chilling and mysterious atmosphere in the story.

Rose was a baby-sitter for Charlotte and Nora, and Nora was the last one to see her alive. The memory of this haunted her and having the case be reopened invites the past to be revisited. In Nora's case, it's a painful past. She was isolated and lonely as a teenager. Her friendship with Charlotte ended abruptly and so the early days of her visit are filled with awkwardness and uncertainty.

So...while this book is technically a mystery, I feel like it's really about something much bigger. The mystery moves along at a fairly slow pace and I think that's because this story is more about Nora reconciling to the past and healing from a kind of hurt she didn't even know existed within her. It's about human connection and the importance of it. I loved Nora's voice...I'm not sure if I would have finished this book if I hadn't identified so much with her. I loved the way she phrased things, I could appreciate and understand so much of how she saw the world and the awkwardness of her return.

The Nora and Charlotte friendship which is so important to the book also was really interesting to me. It was one of those friendships where you spend so much time with someone but are sort of friends with them out of default, not because you necessarily find a lot of things you really admire about them? I mean Nora knew Charlotte so well as kids but it wasn't a friendship she was terribly sentimental about. I don't know if I'm explaining this well at all, but it was something that I felt was developed really well and that I rarely see portrayed.

As Nora gets closer to understanding what happened to Rose (and thus understanding what happened to herself) the book has a few really intense and chilling scenes. I did not want to put it down at all in the end, and the conclusion to the mystery was both terribly sad and satisfying.

Rating: 4.5/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Some language
Source of Book: Review copy received from publisher
Publisher: William Morrow


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