Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Honey Thief by Elizabeth Graver

I think this book was OK. Because the characters and the story had so much potential, I think it could have been a really great book, and it fell short. (Mine had different cover art, but I couldn't find the image)

The chapters alternate between three different characters' perspective, but their stories are wrapped up together.  Miriam is mother, whose husband died a few years ago, and she has just moved her daughter out of New York City because she is worried about her. Eva is her 11-year-old daughter who had started shoplifting small items, and is lonely in their new house out in the country.  Burl lives near Miriam and Eva, and runs a little farm.  Eva begins hanging out around his place, and as he teaches her about keeping bees, they become friends.

I really liked reading the dynamics between Miriam and Eva.  They were sad and even painful at times, but you feel like there is hope for their relationship.  You want to sit them down and mediate!  Both were interesting characters.  In Miriam's chapters, she goes back and explains her whole relationship with Eva's father, Francis.  I think that may have been my favorite part, even as it ended in tragedy.  Burl was interesting too, but I got a little distracted by his relationship with Alice.  I felt like I wasn't always getting enough information to really understand who the author intended him to be.

I was also annoyed by what seemed like unneeded little sexual details.  Little shocking phrases or moments.  And there is this one scene that is so unnecessary and so uncomfortable.

The writing was really beautiful at times.  I liked when Miriam heard her deceased mother give her instructions, advice and courage.  I liked the self-reflection in each of the characters. 

Here are a few good quotes: (Which I just realized are all from Miriam's chapters!)

"Watching him, she felt an almost painful tenderness for all the muffled parts of people, all the far, far parts."

"Later, when she thought back on that night, Miriam would be struck by how time was the most elastic, the most flexible of properties, a year in a minute, an hour in a second."

"It's over, she had said, but it was over and not, just like he was Francis and not, just like this was a life she could want an regret at the same time."

I think ultimately, I wanted to find out more about Eva. Is she just going through a tough time in her life, or is she teetering on the edge of mental illness. Is anyone going to try to figure out? Will she please open up to someone about her fear and compulsions? I didn't need a perfect, tidy ending, but I needed more than the writer gave.