Friday, February 13, 2015

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

Published February 10, 2015 by Amy Einhorn Books

It was the summer everything changed.…

My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.

My Thoughts… 

Most of the characters in this book are teenagers, characters I can relate to as I am raising two of my own right now.   While the crime against Lindy Simpson is the main story, I felt a connection to the younger boy who is obsessed with Lindy.   There is no name ever given to the young boy, yet I felt like I knew him.   He was truly obsessed with Lindy.  He knew her schedule, what she wore, how she sat, and who did the unthinkable to her.    It was frightening and eye opening at how such innocence can turn into something so dangerous without anyone giving it a second thought.  

I enjoyed how the story was told from a male point of view.  This is rare in the books I usually read.  The setting of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was interesting and eye opening when it was described how the city flooded, how the people forced to leave New Orleans invaded it, and how the children were left to play outside and entertain themselves.   I could picture the streets, with the lights on the porches, and the kids playing in the front yard with their bikes.    The flooding made me smile, with the idea of a neighbor driving his boat from house to house to check on his neighbors and give them food.   

The words in this book are from childhood memories.   They are shared as a child would share them and in the way a child would perceive what was happening.   There was some jumping between timeframes, but it flowed with the story perfectly.   I enjoyed that the memories were not taken from a child view and turned into an adult view.   The innocence and fun of childhood was shown as was how tough circumstance sometimes appear different to a child than to an adult in the same place.  

This is a must read for 2015.  

Book Links

"I really loved this book. I am in awe, swept up in the quiet beauty of the prose, and in the wisdom and compassion of the narrator. I can't praise it enough. My Sunshine Away is not a thriller; it is not genre fiction; but it's realism at its finest, and it is a page turner—a story made memorable in paragraph after paragraph by the brilliance of its author, and by the scope of the questions he asks as to how we live this life to the fullest as loving and moral beings. It’s about love, obsession, and pain. Such a beautiful book. Such a remarkable book. I hope M.O. Walsh writes many more wonderful books.”
—Anne Rice, #1 nationally bestselling author of Prince Lestat

“Try and restrain yourself from flying through the pages of this wonderful novel. Instead savor this lush Louisiana mystery that takes you back to what life tasted like when you were still somewhat naïve to the ways of the world. Not just Southern, but American in its vivid Baton Rouge colors and scents, treetops and grasses, My Sunshine Away is the story of how the events of our youth profoundly affect us as adults. The last page is as satisfying as the first. A mystery you cannot wait to solve.”
—Kathryn Stockett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help

“This is literature of the highest order. Although the book snaps with the tautness of a thriller––and Walsh keeps the reader guessing until the end, as the best mystery writers do––My Sunshine Away also asks essential questions, like how much responsibility we have to each other, and whether we can we ever fully reassemble the pieces of broken lives. And whileWalsh hints at answers, it’s his willingness to engage such ideas that makes My Sunshine Away an important work of fiction. We need more novelists with the guts and clarity of M. O. Walsh.”
—Matthew ThomasNew York Times–bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves

“If you start this novel, you will not put it down. My Sunshine Away is a riveting, suspenseful, page-turning mystery. It is also a wise, insightful, and beautifully written novel. This is an extraordinary debut.”
—Jill McCorkle, New York Times–bestselling author of Life After Life

My Sunshine Away is that rarest find, a page-turner you want to read slowly and a literary novel you can't look away from. At times funny, at times spine-tinglingly suspenseful, and at times just flat-out wise, this novel is also a meditation on memory, how it can destroy or damn us but redeem us as well.  It's a book to read and reread, one that will only get better with time, like its writer.  I'm already excited about M. O. Walsh’s next book, whatever it is.”
—Tom Franklinbestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

“M.O. Walsh has written one of the best books I've read in a long while. An outstanding examination of the way that the past and the weight of our memories shape us, My Sunshine Away, thanks to Walsh’s verve and total control over the narrative, feels utterly original.”
—Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

"MY SUNSHINE AWAY begins with a crime. But the novel is so much more than a mystery; it’s half lament, half love letter to youth and to possibility. On every page, we feel complicit, perhaps even guilty. Guilty of what? For ever having been young ourselves. The magic of MY SUNSHINE AWAY is in M. O. Walsh’s extraordinary ability to make us long for the heartache of youth and its inevitable sins. This is an awe-inspiring debut."
—Hannah Pittard, author of Reunion and The Fates Will Find Their Way

"If I were asked to list the qualities the ideal novel would offer, I'd start by demanding beautiful sentences.  I'd want the opening to grab me and I'd want the ending to refuse to let go.  I'd ask for characters who consistently surprise by being somehow deeper and less predictable than we could ever have guessed they'd be.  I'd want Place to be written with a capital P.  I'd want a mystery at the heart of story, and a mystery or two in every heart.  And when I finished reading the book, I'd want to be both wiser and sadder than when I started.  M. O. Walsh's magnificent novel MY SUNSHINE AWAY afforded me all these pleasures and more.  This is one of the best novels I've read in ages."
—Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances.

“Q: When is it a thrill to feel gutted? A: When you start reading the book you hold in your hands. M. O. Walsh’s MySunshine Away reminds us that art can be wrenching and a delight, that pain—if examined through wit, intimacy, and wisdom—can be a salve. This novel is great.”
—Darin Strauss, internationally bestselling author of Half a Life

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