Judy K. (Conroe, TX)
This book grabbed me by the throat from the jump. This was a story about a young girl growing up in a constantly shifting environment, struggling to stay on her feet, struggling to rise above the abuse and neglect heaped on her at home, the very place she was supposed to be assured of stability and protection. More than that, however, it’s the place she should have been assured of unconditional love and acceptance.
Helen never was accepted, by her parents or her peers. She never fit in, no matter how hard she tried, so when she was thrown out into the world, she wasn’t prepared to make good decisions about men or her future. I could see it coming! “DON”T DO IT!” I wanted to scream, but she did it anyway and therein lies the story, a fascinating tale of digging a hole for herself at a very young, too-young, age and spending the rest of her life trying to dig her way out.
The fact that Helen becomes a prostitute and, eventually, a madam gives the story a gossipy, voyeuristic feel. Who doesn’t want to peer inside that industry? Who isn’t curious about what goes on between whores and their pimps? Why would a woman settle for such a life and, in Helen’s case, perpetuate it? Laura Lippman takes a long, hard, intelligent look at these questions and provides logical, entertaining answers. What more can you ask from a book?
The book alternates chapters between Helen’s younger life and her current one bringing the two together in a gripping page-turner at the end. The story is a captivating one, the characters totally believable, some likeable, some un-likeable, and Ms. Lippman’s observations of suburban life, astute. I loved Reverend Frida, the cheerful, self-centered pastor of the twinkle-doo church Helen feels compelled to frequent, not because she has a religious nature, but because “some kind of organized religion is good for kids”. It’s comments like this and the nicely plotted, tightly drawn story of a woman trying her damnedest to overcome one obstacle after another in order to provide a future for her child, that makes this such a compelling read.