Win a Shout Her Lovely Name tote bag and a copy of this book, courtest of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! Read on for more info.
Mothers and daughters are the thread that weaves Natalie Serber’s Shout Her Lovely Name together. The collection of eleven stories, eight of which are interconnected, unflinchingly portray the wide range of emotions ranging from tenderness to fury that are characteristic in so many mother/daughter relationships.
Most of the stories follow a mother and daughter duo named Ruby and Nora at different points of their lives. In “Ruby Jewel,” we see a glimpse of what Ruby’s childhood must have been like; a visit home from college reveals her alcoholic and her weary mother, a woman who has suffered through years of infidelity with a difficult husband. Soon after, Ruby gets pregnant and makes the decision to keep her precious daughter even though the emotional cost is high.
Many of the stories are about Ruby doing her best as a single mother. Of the two, it’s actually young Nora who turns out to be the more levelheaded one. Ruby smokes, drinks heavily, and dates a string of men. She doesn’t completely leave Nora to fend for herself, but Nora’s life is certainly confusing and lonely at times.
Serber sets up an interesting dynamic in these Ruby/Nora stories, but since most of the book is about them and we only get a few glimpses at specific moments in their lives, I kept wishing that the book had instead been written as a full novel. It left me with a weird, contradictory feeling, like I knew too much about them, yet I didn’t know enough. I will say, though, that the characters are superbly drawn. Ruby in particular is a frustrating woman with realistic flaws.
I think the title story is the strongest of the collection; it’s one of the few stories in the collection that isn’t about Ruby and Nora; instead, it focuses on mother who is desperate to help her teenage daughter struggling with anorexia. Readers get to see the once-happy daughter fall apart before her mother’s eyes; what she initially believed to be difficult teenage behavior turns out to be symptoms of a condition that the family is ill-equipped to even comprehend. The story is heartbreaking, and the writing is as close to perfect as one can get.
Overall, I think the book is a strong debut for Serber, and it’s a book I think a lot of people can appreciate. The mother/daughter dynamics in all of the stories are realistic, and there are things in the book that most people will be able to relate to.
Shout Her Lovely Name was released on June 26, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. This book is on tour right now, so check out what other bloggers are saying about it.
Interested in winning the book and a Shout Her Lovely Name tote bag?
Fill out the form below by midnight (Central Time) on Friday, July 13, 2012. Open to US residents only. This giveaway is now over.