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Our Short History: A Novel by Lauren…

Our Short History: A Novel

by Lauren Grodstein

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Our Short Story is the tale of a woman, Karen, who is about to die from ovarian cancer in her forties. The book is written as a first person memoir- Karen plans to leave it for her 6-year old son, Jake, to read when he's an adult. It explores her emotional journey as she not only prepares to die but also as she meets with Jake's father for the first time since their relationship ended when he made it clear he did not want a child. I found the book fascinating. Considering the topic, I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I was drawn into the characters. I liked that Karen was a fully developed character, flaws and all! It was a great read for a rainy weekend! ( )
  Leigh0906 | May 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Imagine that you’re in your late thirties and dating the love of your life when you learn that you’re pregnant. Imagine that your paramour panics as he’s never wanted to raise a family. You leave him and never look back, right? Wrong. You’re now a single mother in your early forties, you have stage four cancer, and your son asks to meet his father. This is where we find Karen, who is in the process of documenting her thoughts and recollections for her son, Jacob (Jake) to read as an adult. The author deftly takes us along Karen’s emotional journey as she faces meeting her former lover once again, along with dealing with her impending death. ( )
  MsNick | May 17, 2017 |
Karen, in her early 40's and a single mother, has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has only a few brief years to live. She is fiercely protective of her 6-year-old son Jake, and Karen begins to make arrangements for him to live with her sister and family after her death. Jake, the result of a somewhat brief relationship between Karen and her then-lover Dave, has never known his father, since Dave made it clear to Karen at the time that he wasn't interested in becoming a father and assumed that Karen had aborted the baby after the end of their relationship. Now, as Karen tries to come to terms with her impending death, Jake begins to ask questions about his father and requests to meet him. Though reluctant, Karen contacts Dave and contrary to her expectations, Dave is delighted to discover that he has a son. But this just adds to Karen's fear, and she becomes even more protective of her son.

This novel is told from Karen's point of view, as a sort of memoir written to Jake for him to keep & treasure after she has gone. While it had the potential to be a tear-jerker, I think it failed in that respect. While I can grant some sympathy to a main character who is dying, I found Karen to be too self-absorbed, selfish, and whiny, and I just didn't like her. The memoir-style presentation of this story, as a book written to her son, also didn't really work for me, as much of the time Karen was complaining about subject matter that really shouldn't have been relevant to her son, or at least not something that he would want to save & cherish. Those aspects, combined with the reader of this audiobook, whose voice I found not necessarily appealing for a story such as this, just left me with a feeling of disappointment in this novel. ( )
  indygo88 | May 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This story is told in the form of a mother writing a book for her 6-year-old son to read when he's older, after she's dead. Because, at age 43, she is dying of ovarian cancer. She is very honest about her life and career, as well as her feelings about death and her love for her son. When her son convinces her to call his father - who he's never met - things change drastically. She does not want this man to be a part of her son's life, but this is outside of her control. A very enjoyable read. ( )
  PhDinHorribleness | May 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I almost didn’t pick this one up. The synopsis really grabbed me, but I’d had a previous experience with this author a few years ago when The Explanation For Everything left me so disappointed. In the end, however, the pull of the synopsis was just too much and I requested a review copy though the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I’m glad I did.

Karen was an interesting woman with some complex issues to work through, but luckily she had a very supportive family to help her through. Her little sister Allie and her family were at first glance too good to be true, but though there wasn’t a lot of time spent on the family dynamics, there was enough to let you know they really weren’t perfect. And while I didn’t always agree with Karen’s decisions her justifications, it was easy to understand why she felt as she did. And though we didn’t get to really know Dave well, he was a likeable guy, even if Karen felt differently. The story was written from Karen’s point of view, and often a ‘he said - she said’ story about the birth of little Jake, so we really don’t know which version is correct. The star of this story, by the way, is Jake, a cute, energetic six-year-old with all the characteristics that come with being six! My only real issue is where the story ended — I would have liked to have known more about the evolution of Karen’s relationship with Dave and his wife, Megan. But ending it where it did prevented the story from being a tear-jerker, and it’s pretty easy to guess how it all ended, so I’m not really disappointed.

This was a quick read and will be great for a lazy, rainy weekend. Even better will be to get your book club to read and discuss it as there is so much to discuss. I’ve not been able to find discussion questions, but groups should find it easy to discuss with questions like how will Karen’s relationship with the father of her child evolve? Does she stick to her original plan to live out her remaining days with her sister? What choices SHOULD Karen make? And so much more!

You can read a short excerpt of the book on the publisher’s website.

I won a copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. ( )
  Time2Read2 | May 7, 2017 |
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