How I Came to Sparkle Again by Kaya McLaren
St. Martin's Press
October 2, 2012; 352 Pages
Set in a Colorado ski town, Kaya McLaren's How I Came To Sparkle Again is a remarkable breakout novel that chronicles three people and their journey from loss to love; heartbreak to hope
Jill Anthony spent her young adulthood in the ski town of Sparkle, Colorado. But more than a decade has passed since she left when, only weeks after a very late miscarriage, she finds her husband in bed with another woman, she flees Austin, Texas for the town she knows: Sparkle.
Lisa Carlucci wakes up one morning after another night of meaningless sex, looks in the mirror and realizes that she no longer wants to treat her body like a Holiday Inn. She’s going to hold out for love. The only problem is, love might come in the form of her ski bum best friend, who lives next door with his ski bum friends in a trailer known as “the Kennel.”
Cassie Jones, at age ten, has lost her mother to cancer and no longer believes in anything anymore. She knows her father is desperately worried about her, and she constantly looks for messages from her deceased mother through the heart-shaped rocks they once collected in the streams and hills of Sparkle.
Three people at the crossroads of heartbreak and healing. Three lives that will be changed one winter in Sparkle. One tender, funny, tear-jerking novel you won’t soon forget. (from Amazon.com)
I'm not even sure where to begin with this one. And not for the reasons you might think. The truth is that while I was expecting to enjoy this book (based on the superficial reasons of how much I like the jacket art and the inside cover description) I was not expecting it to have such an impact one me. One that it indeed moved me to tears. Three times - at least.
I don't ski. I've never (thankfully) personally suffered any serious medical traumas. I've known heartache, but not the kind these women have experienced, and at age 10 my biggest worry was if I'd be able to watch the Donnie and Marie show each week. (That's the Osmond's for you young folks!) Yet these characters spoke to me. They reached out and pulled me into their world and didn't let go until the very last page. A a rule I will read an average length novel in a week. This one took just a few days. I was so captivated by their individual stories and their relationships with each other that I could never find a good place to stop.
And what about the tears?!? I'm not usually an emotional reader and it's a fairly rare occasion that words will make me cry. Imagine my surprise when it happened over and over again!! And not just for sad things. There were happy tears too! I suppose we might say that I was having "one of those days" and chalk it up to that, but I'm more inclined to say that it was good story telling that brought on the water works.
I tried to think of which part of the story I liked the most. Or which of the characters I found the most interesting, but I can't describe this book that way. To me it feels more like an ensemble story. There are main players, but the supporting characters are interesting and important tie the whole thing together.
I did get a kick out of "the Kennel" and the guys that live there. Each of them has a dog named after a beer which makes perfect sense to this somehow charming group of guys.
As you can tell, I really liked this book. I'm sure that it's not for all of you, and that's okay. We're all drawn to different things at different points in time. For me, this one just hit the mark. I can imagine this story happening. I have known most of these people, and I can see myself working at the library in Sparkle (I'm sure they have one even though it's not mentioned!).
I suppose I would call it chick-lit even though I'm not really a fan of that label, I'm sure that others would put it in that category. And I can't think of any other authors to compare Ms. McLaren too except may Sophie Kinsella or Lisa Kleypas (sort of)... No matter what category it falls under this one gets 4 big stars (out of 5) from me.
If it sounds like something you might like, please give it a try and come back and tell me what you think. I'd love to know if it was just a fluke thing or if hits anyone else like it did me! We have one copy at the library, but we can always get you a copy if ours is out (or you can request it on CW/MARS).
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