Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blame by Michelle Huneven

What is a life? Accumulated moments, or one defining action? And what if you wasted your life, not really being true to your impulses, but by being someone better?

I enjoyed this book, though it took some pages to get into it as it has an off putting prologue that only makes sense at the end of the book. The themes of this novel are much deeper than they appear.  I want to reread it already – just because the clues are so cleverly hidden at the beginning. The main character is Patsy MacLemoore. She kills a mother and a little girl while driving drunk and gets sent to prison, which is depicted (accurately I’m sure) as a soulless violent place. Patsy has very little emotional reaction in the prison scenes, which makes it hard to “get” her. But she reacts quite a bit in the last part of the book when she’s learning to be human again. Patsy wants to punish herself in prison, and afterwards. She knows she has to change her instinctive reaction to things. We get two glimpses early of the irrepressible Patsy, the mouthy Patsy, the kind of mean obnoxious drunk Patsy. Then after the accident and the horrors of prison, which truly is a punishment, the forced-to-be-good Patsy. The scared straight Patsy. The repression of every normal mischievous urge thereafter. Therefore, when the plot twist happens (which feels a bit contrived), Patsy’s resentful that no one applauds her life of repression and good works. Was it worth it – all that self sacrifice?

She’s relieved when she realizes she doesn’t have to interact with the saintly guy whose wife and kid she thought she murdered. He’s boring. The final scene reunites the characters in the prologue. Her life has been interrupted. Her new life might not be so good but at least it’s hers.

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