TLC Book Tour: Precious by Sandra Novack

preciousTitle: Precious

Author: Sandra Novack

Genre/Pages: Fiction; 288 pages

Publication: Random House; 2/17/09

Rating: 4.5 BOOKMARKS

I’ve been thinking about Precious ever since I finished it late last month; Sandra Novack’s lyrical prose had a profound impact on me, hence the longer-than-usual review—this book deserves it! 

Set in rural Pennsylvania in the late 1970s, Precious tells the story of a family falling apart from the inside out.  Unable to find balance in her roles as mother, wife, and woman, Natalia Kisch is tired of feeling overwhelmed and runs off to Italy with a lover.  Shockwaves from Natalia’s decision ripple through her family, neighborhood, and community, fundamentally and irreparably damaging her children and spouse.    

Eldest daughter Eva’s anger is tinged with fear and humiliation and sets her on a self-destructive path of promiscuity.  She is powerless and can’t control anything except her own actions, which ultimately lead her to a heartrending decision. 

9-year-old Sissy exists in a hazy world, hovering between fantasy and reality.  She harbors guilt over her mother’s abandonment and over the disappearance of a former friend and neighborhood girl.  Avoidance is the only way she can cope.  At several points during the book I feared for her safety because she was so lost in her private, dreamy world.

Frank, father of the girls and Natalia’s husband, withdraws from his children, unable and unwilling to navigate the rocky waters of his emotions.  He’s ill-equipped to handle the anger, embarrassment, and pain that comes with his wife’s betrayal and abandonment.

Novack’s use of figurative language and characterization actually gave me pause at several points during the novel.  The simplicity and beauty of her diction helped to make this book one of the best novels I’ve read in the last ten months.   Themes of abandonment and loss resonate on each page.   Imagery is vivid– especially in the following passage—making Sissy’s terror palpable: 

“After Eva leaves, the day grows as long as a shadow.  By four the house will begin to feel ominous.  In the kitchen, the basement door will become a gateway to a place filled with cobwebby terror, unspeakable dread.  In the living room, Sissy will be certain someone lurks just outside the window: a mystery man, a murderer.  Upstairs, the shuttered closet in Sissy’s room will suddenly hold too many secrets; each slat will cause her to worry.”  (Novack, 22.)

I can’t recommend this book strongly enough.  It’s worthy of so much more praise than it has garnered.  I hope that with the exposure from TLC tours and book blogger word-of-mouth, it will finally receive the accolades it deserves.  Thank you to Lisa and Trish of TLC Book Tours for inviting me to host Sandra Novack’s Precious—it was truly my pleasure.

21 Comments

  • At 2009.05.06 02:16, kay said:

    Great review, on what sounds like a great book!
    My list of books to read is already long, but I’ll add it anyway! 🙂

    • At 2009.05.06 08:38, lisamm said:

      Wow, Natalie, great review! Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into your reading and reviewing; it is truly appreciated. I have Precious and now I’m really looking forward to reading it!!

      • At 2009.05.06 08:41, Julie P. said:

        So glad to hear this! I have it in my TBR pile for the tour later on this month!

        • At 2009.05.06 09:00, Jessica said:

          This book sounds wonderful, thanks for the review.

          • At 2009.05.06 09:38, Ellen said:

            I love your review, it is so vivid. THe book sounds really powerful and the quote you included is so visual. Great job on the review and I can’t wait to read Precious.

            • At 2009.05.06 09:58, Jenners said:

              Wow! I think I want to read this. There is an Anne Tyler book(Ladder of Years) that has the same basic plot — mother just leaves her family — and I loved the idea (though would hate to have it happen to me). Tyler’s book was a bit more gentle and humorous than this ones sounds and was told from the point of view of the mother. This sounds like a more realistic view of the fallout of such an act. I’m putting it on my wish list. Thanks!

              • At 2009.05.06 10:00, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                wow that is high praise…thanks for the recommendation.

                • At 2009.05.06 12:03, Positively Present said:

                  Sounds like a really great book! I’m going to check it out. Thanks so much for posting the review. 🙂

                  • At 2009.05.06 13:21, Megan said:

                    Fantastic review! Definitely sounds compelling, and I miss reading more literary fiction than I have been lately. Definitely going to look for this one!

                    • At 2009.05.06 13:29, bermudaonion said:

                      I’d really like to read this one after reading your fantastic review!

                      • At 2009.05.06 14:56, Sandra Novack said:

                        Hi Book, Line and Sinker,

                        Thanks so much for the thoughtful review. I appreciate it!

                        All Best,
                        Sandra Novack

                        natalie of BL&S says: thank you so much for writing such a terrific novel!! all the best to you.

                        • At 2009.05.06 18:38, Samantha said:

                          This sounds like a really great read. I’ll be adding it to my ever-growing TBR list. Thanks for the great review!

                          • At 2009.05.06 23:00, softdrink said:

                            Well done! I’m glad you mentioned the characterization and language…now I don’t feel like I floundered around (as much) in my post. 😀

                            And I can’t wait for another book, too!

                            • At 2009.05.07 00:20, S. Krishna said:

                              Wow, amazing review! I have this one on my shelf and am glad you enjoyed it so much.

                              • […] Wednesday, May 6th:  Book, Line, and Sinker […]

                                • At 2009.05.08 10:55, Tara said:

                                  This sounds great! How lucky you were to be part of this tour. I’ll keep an eye out for this.

                                  • At 2009.05.15 22:40, diaryofaneccentric said:

                                    Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’m on the tour, too, and I’ll be reading the book soon. I’m looking forward to it.

                                    –Anna

                                    • […] May 4th: Fizzy Thoughts Wednesday, May 6th: Book, Line, and Sinker Thursday, May 7th: Redlady’s Reading Room Sunday, May 10th, Musings of a Bookish Kitty Wednesday, […]

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