**My general disclaimer before all reviews: Take a look at my
to understand how my reviews work, and the general rubric I use. I give very honest reviews, and while I'm not New York Times critic harsh, I do try to keep it real.**
Why She Left Us by David Dennis
It was the summer of 1985, and she was young and inexperienced, but longing to love and to be loved in return, when he entered her life. At the same time, while she was desperately seeking the love and approval of a mother who never wanted her in the first place, events totally beyond her control claimed her as their victim, leaving those she left behind unable to cope with the enormity of her absence. "WHY SHE LEFT US” is written as a series of diary entries, the events seen through the eyes of several different people. But at its center is a love story chronicling a romance that transforms the lives of two people who, for too brief a period of time, experienced the greatest happiness they had ever known.
Hm, how to give my thoughts on this book. I am having a hard time rating it because I find myself conflicted. David is a good writer. A very good writer. He tells this story from the perspective of five different people, and actually managed to make their voices sound different. And I respected that ability.
Honestly, as I read this somber story about a broken family, I found myself comparing it to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. I didn't like that book at all, but I did appreciate the writing prowess needed to create it. I feel much the same way about Why She Left Us. I had some problems with it, not the least of which dealing with the completely depressing, heaviness of it all, but at the same time, I got this sense that Mr. Dennis was very devoted to these characters, and to tell them to lighten up would have been something of a disservice.
So I don't think I like the story very much, but I have to give kudos to David for his writing style. It was well-crafted, and for a self-published novel, surprisingly well-edited. The two comments on writing that I have are these: 1.) That the romantic dialogue was a little unrealistic. (I didn't want to use the word "corny," but I'm having a hard time coming up with something more fitting. It was all very dramatic, I suppose.) 2.) These were supposed to be young people, but for the most part, they all sounded like middle-aged writers. I'm sure that was a stylistic choice, but I couldn't help but note it. I was a well-read teenager, but my journal entries did not sound like that!
If you, my fellow reader, are intrigued by drama and the darker side of human nature, then you might really like this book. I gave it a 3 on cleanliness because it talks about sexual aspects of life that, while real, probably aren't appropriate for younger audiences. This book is, more or less, an adult one. But I liked how timeless it was. The setting is in the mid-eighties, but it could have been now. I think that will serve the book well as time goes on.
So why did I give it 8/10 if I don't really like these kinds of books? I think because I respected it. It's well-written, and the story is complex, involved, and very carefully formed. So it deserves an 8 for that, if anything else. I have a feeling that many readers would really like this book, just as so many raved over Lovely Bones, when I found it depressing and slow. And lest you think that was an insult, yes, I am comparing David's book to Lovely Bones! I think it had a similar air to it. So if you like those kinds of stories, then I encourage you to pick this one up! It's hard to find such meticulous, thought out work like this in the world of Indie books.