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Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
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Songs Without Words (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ann Packer

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7093113,323 (3.17)15
Member:CatieN
Title:Songs Without Words
Authors:Ann Packer
Info:Vintage (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:literary fiction

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Songs Without Words by Ann Packer (2007)

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Liz and Sarabeth have been best friends since they were children and when Sarabeth's mother committed suicide when Sarabeth was 16 years old Liz's family took Sarabeth into their home to live with them as the girls finished high school together. Now, years later, Liz is married with 2 teenage children and Sarabeth is single and trying to find her own happiness. Liz's daughter, Lauren, has been showing signs of depression but her parents don't recognize her pleas for help until it is almost too late. During this frightening time Sarabeth relives the nightmare of her mother's depression and suicide and instead of rushing to her lifelong friend's side she closes herself off from any personal contact with the issue. Liz resents her friend's seeming abandonment and a deep rift affects the women's closeness. Liz and her husband find their marriage beginning to crumble and Liz is heartbroken that she has no one to turn to. Each woman wants to reach out to the other but anger keeps Liz away and fear shackles Sarabeth.

I liked the characters in this book for the most part and I thought the story was well told. It was frightening to see how quickly the character of Lauren went from feelings of worthlessness to such extreme measures. The parents feelings of guilt and confusion were understandable and Lauren's subsequent treatments were realistic. I just felt the book was a bit slow at times with not much happening.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
What do you do if you have a child who attempts suicide? How do you hold a family together as well as friendships that go back to childhood. This contemporary story revolves around Liz and her best friend since childhood, Sarabeth. They live such different lives, Sarabeth, has remained single and constantly teeters on the edge of poverty. She has few friends other than Liz. Liz has married a successful man involved in the tech industry has two children. Laurel’s attempted suicide nearly destroys a marriage and the friendship of the two women. ( )
  brangwinn | May 25, 2015 |
I so much wanted to like this book. It takes place just a few miles from where I live, deals with daughters in high school, I was completely ready to fall in love with this book. But, I found the characters whiny and could not relate to the emotional swings or depression that swamped both the teenage and adult characters. ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
Sarabeth's mother killed herself when Sarabeth & Liz were 16. The book takes place when they are adults. Liz's daughter is depressed, and her daughter's suicide attempt strains both Liz's marriage and her friendship with Sarabeth.

It's partly about sisterhood/friendship, partly about depression, partly about communication, partly about family relationships.

A slow-paced book, but not bad. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Apr 7, 2013 |
I read this one pretty slowly; I didn't want it to end. It's not one of those books where you want to get lost in its little world, because it feels very real already. Sometimes it's the real side of life we want to escape by reading. Two characters in the book are very depressed, and their actions and thoughts are ones I recognized pretty well.

I was struck by Ms. Packer's dialogue. She has a very good ear for how people talk, to the point that a couple times I had to read passages out loud in order to understand what was really being said. That may sound like it wasn't well written ... and perhaps it was a flaw in the writing, or perhaps it was just lazy reading on my part ... but I found the story to be enriched by these details, even if they were a bit more challenging to follow. ( )
  periwinklejane | Mar 29, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375412816, Hardcover)

Ann Packer’s debut novel, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, was a nationwide best seller that established her as one of our most gifted chroniclers of the interior lives of women. Now, in her long-awaited second novel, she takes us on a journey into a lifelong friendship pushed to the breaking point. Expertly, with the keen introspection and psychological nuance that are her hallmarks, she explores what happens when there are inequities between friends and when the hard-won balances of a long relationship are disturbed, perhaps irreparably, by a harrowing crisis.

Liz and Sarabeth were childhood neighbors in the suburbs of northern California, brought as close as sisters by the suicide of Sarabeth’s mother when the girls were just sixteen. In the decades that followed—through Liz’s marriage and the birth of her children, through Sarabeth’s attempts to make a happy life for herself despite the shadow cast by her mother’s act—their relationship remained a source of continuity and strength. But when Liz’s adolescent daughter enters dangerous waters that threaten to engulf the family, the fault lines in the women’s friendship are revealed, and both Liz and Sarabeth are forced to reexamine their most deeply held beliefs about their connection. Songs Without Words is about the sometimes confining roles we take on in our closest relationships, about the familial myths that shape us both as children and as parents, and about the limits—and the power—of the friendships we create when we are young.

Once again, Ann Packer has written a novel of singular force and complexity: thoughtful, moving, and absolutely gripping, it more than confirms her prodigious literary gifts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Chronicles the long-time friendship between Liz and Sarabeth, a relationship that is forged in childhood and sustained through the decades that follow, until both women are forced to reexamine their lives in the wake of a devastating crisis.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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