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Remember My Beauties by Lynne Hugo
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Remember My Beauties

by Lynne Hugo

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Caring for parents as they age is stressful for anyone. Add in a failing family farm, siblings absent either physically or because of addictions, and favoritism where the caregiver child is not the favorite and caring for those parents is exponentially harder to do. This is the case in Lynne Hugo's sharply written, dysfunctional family novel, Remember My Beauties.

Jewel checks in on her parents every day, cleaning, feeding, and administering their medicine and she cares for her father's beauties (the horses) too all while struggling with issues in her own floundering marriage to Eddie and with her drug addicted daughter, Carley, and working in a job that doesn't feed her soul. She is stretched as thin as it is possible to be and she's deeply unhappy, as is evidenced by her hacking off her beautiful hair in the opening of the novel. She feels, and in fact seems to be, unappreciated by everyone in her life. When her parents inform her that her no-good alcoholic brother, the brother she loathes, is coming back and moving in with them, Jewel erupts, unwilling to continue to see her parents and the horses she loves if Cal is anywhere around. This line in the sand sets up unlikely coalitions and drives the central conflict of the novel.

The narration of the novel jumps amongst almost all of the characters, even including the horses, but only Jewel narrates in the first person. This makes her feelings and reasons the most intimate and immediate for the reader. Each of the other characters' stories occur in relation to Jewel. The perspective jumps to and from the other characters can be a little disconcerting at times and changes the narrative tension quite a bit. Hugo has drawn Jewel quite sensitively so that the decision she makes at the breaking point is certainly understandable. The rest of the characters are not quite as noble as Jewel and it is hard to be positive about their collusion with each other against her. The family is completely and totally dysfunctional, riddled with drugs and alcohol and terrible secrets making Hack and Louetta's aging and loss of independence that much sadder. Each character knows what he or she wants and is so enmeshed in his or her own needs that it is hard to read although this same selfishness makes them all so very human. As each pursues that which they want above all, they do all start to open to others, to grow, and to change and there is hope for these damaged characters to see clearly once more. ( )
  whitreidtan | Jun 27, 2016 |
Past the hard skin of a family torn by divisive relationships and destructive choices that have eroded hope to a bare minimum, Remember My Beauties is a visceral glimpse at a family finding the strength to transcend bad history and rediscover their purpose. The horses and the farm are a great backdrop to the story, though when it serves, both elements step up as important characters themselves.

This book is a case of getting a lot more than I expected. I thought it was a book about a horse loving family saga. It is that, but not only that. It is most of all a story of people overcome by hard life experiencing and overcoming hardship to build a stronger family.

This book is hard, gritty, and steely-eyed about pain, but it has a soul. The author creates a fantastic portrait of people. You may care about them, or care to hate them, but as in real life, they are not what they first seem, and they evolve in pleasantly unexpected ways.

The horses and farm are part of the family, but the story is the family. Read it for heartbreak moments, times when you grit your teeth with frustration, pages where you know what the character should do but they just won’t, moments when you forgive them even when you know you shouldn’t, unfair sadness and gut-wrenching shocks.

This review title was provided by the publisher for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review and more at annevolmering.com. ( )
  avolm | Jun 23, 2016 |
Jewel is trying to do it all, and believes that she is the only one who can. Jewel works two jobs, one of which is for the county Eldercare taking care of her ailing parents, since Jewel is the only one her mother will allow to help her. Jewel also helps her blind father take care of the horses, the only things that Jewel feels that she still loves unconditionally. In addition to her parents, Jewel’s second husband Eddie just doesn’t seem to get what she is going through, Jewel’s daughter Carley is involved with drugs and a deadbeat boyfriend who keeps pulling her down, Eddie’s daughter Chastity is anything but her name suggests and Eddie’s son, Rocky is going to come live with them despite Eddie paying child support. The tip of the iceberg however is when Jewel’s mother tells Jewel that her brother Cal will be staying with them. Jewel can’t forgive Cal for a past indiscretion and when he shows up and does something else unforgivable, Jewel quits Eldercare and leaves everyone to figure it out on their own. She just can’t stay away from the horses though, knowing that they won’t be getting the best care.

An emotional tale of family, horses and forgiveness. This is not only a story of a rollercoaster of family dynamics, but how the non-human members of our family can affect us. I loved that every character in this story was very real and flawed; they held grudges, made mistakes, had vices and addictions and gave up hope. However, when things really mattered they came together and made things work. Most of the story is told from Jewel’s point of view, and I do sympathize a lot with her situation; the feeling that you are the only one who can do something and everything will fall apart without you. There are also points of view from almost every other character in the story, which got a little confusing when they switched, but I figured it out. The best point of view for me, as a horse lover was definitely the horses themselves! This really highlighted the horse and human relationship and tied everything together in a unique way. A great read for anyone who loves horses or for the sandwich generation who is trying to do it all.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | May 31, 2016 |
I was first drawn to this novel because it is set in Kentucky, my home state. The descriptions and history of bluegrass filled pastures made me feel right at home. Hugo quickly creates the family turmoil juxtaposed against the serene horse country in this slim novel . The family's demise or survival becomes almost like a horse race and the tension mounts with each chapter. Hugo tells the story from different points of view and this works. She includes the horses' perspective and they become the center of the story, the beauties. Hugo shows the healing potential of horses through the relationship with t Jewel and Drug addicted Carly. Even the blind father knows his favorite and the horses are like medicine for him. Can the Beauties offset such ugliness in this family? Will their healing be complete? A beautiful novel that shows the reader the interaction of man and animal and man as animal. The command is heard but will it be heeded, "Walk on."

Provided by publisher ( )
  hfineisen | May 21, 2016 |
To say that Jewel has a tough job trying to keep her family functioning is putting it mildly. She takes care of two aging parents and their horses on their horse farm. Her father is blind and her mother is very demanding. Her daughter is hooked on drugs and living with a loser. Her marriage is falling apart and her husband's daughter is living with them and he also wants his son to move in to their house. If all that isn't bad enough, her brother Cal has decided to come back home. Jewel hates Cal (and for good reason) and knows that he will be more of a burden than a help. The only sanity that Jewel has in her life are the horses. Spending time and working with the four horses are the only time that Jewel is really happy. Cal returning back to the farm, throws everything into a turmoil - or more of a turmoil than it had been and Jewel has to make decisions that make her question everything in her life and her family.

This is a wonderful novel of family and love and forgiveness. I plan to go back and read some of the author's older books because I was so impressed with this one.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. ( )
  susan0316 | Apr 18, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0875807364, Paperback)

Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.

Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.

Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 01 Mar 2016 13:29:26 -0500)

Imagine a hawk's view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart. Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job, not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. She holds it all together, until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.… (more)

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