Patricia (Yankton SD)
Astounding First Novel
Night Navigation is a powerful novel from an accomplished first novelist. Writing in the alternating voices of the mother, Del, and her 32 year old son Mark, Howard adds to reader involvement. I was pulled into the skillfully drawn maternal co-dependency, which is part of most mother-child relationships. The authors writing style of short, choppy sentences in the Mark sections echoes his manic mind state. Having a daughter who is bi-polar and alcohol and drug dependent, the manipulation of the addict is well known to me.
Though this at first seems a dark novel, there are instances of humor which lighten the drama and make the characters and situations real. Her use of imagery, the careful filling of the coffee pot, the struggle with the bats, Marks paranoia about crows, all rise to symbolic significance and add depth to the novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed Night Navigation, and am looking forward to the authors second novel.
Julie (Rancho Palos Verdes CA)
Not an easy read
If you are looking for a light, easy read, this isn't your book. This is a fabulous book that seems so true to life because the author lived it.
As the wife of a recovering addict (my husband was 2 years sober when we met), there were so many painful parts to this story. Ginnah Howard digs deep and comes out with a fantastic, realistic story about living with an addict, loving an addict, being an addict and dealing with mental illness.
You won't be disappointed in this one.
Kari (Oslo )
A very realistic and interesting book
I really liked this book. Both the mother's and son's voices felt very realistic. It is written in a way that takes you along on the same emotional roller-coaster that are described in its pages. I have some experience with mental illness, and also with alcoholism/AA, both through my husband's family. That made me recognize certain things in the book, like how Mark kept trying, failing, trying again, and how his mother always ended up being there for him, no matter how agonizing. I don't think you need to have any experience with mental illness/chemical abuse to enjoy this book, but I feel that it added depth to the whole reading experience.
Rachelle (Chicago IL)
I found this to be a great read. As a mental health professional I found myself reading a story that I've seen play out more than once with families I've worked with. Del, the enabling mother struggling to want to give her son "tough love" but also wanting to just protect him a little longer. Mark, lost in a world of drugs, self medicating his mania, struggling to find a way out only to fall back into all of it. This is not a "light" novel, its dark and angsty and angry and anxious and you will quickly find yourself drawn into their world.
Eileen (Danvers MA)
Good not Great
This is a heart rending story of the struggles of a mentally ill addict and the struggles of a family. Del, the Mom, lives in constant fear of what will become of her son, Mark, while trying to live some sort of life of her own. Not really tough love material, Del has a hard time letting the chips fall for her son, but an almost harder time continuing to support him. Mark does not make it easy to do either.
As moving as this story is I found myself, for some reason at times, a little annoyed with the Mom and sick of Mark. Del's love of Mark seems to have a desperation about it, and for good reason we learn as the tale unfolds. Despite this I still found myself impatient with the development of the plot. There were parts of the book when I could not put it down, and then parts where I found myself skimming a little.
In the end I would categorize "Night Navigation" as a good read on many levels but average when compared to some of the more mature books of this genre.
Kimberly (Chula Vista CA)
Night Navigation by Ginnah Howard is a gripping, yet depressing, novel. Del, the 60+ year-old mother alternates telling the story with her 37 year-old son who is a drug addict and a perpetual source of stress for Del. The book intrigued me right from the beginning and did not disappoint through the last page. The parade of unsavory characters and Dels inability to give her son the tough love he seems to be craving proved to be extremely frustrating for this reader. Ginnah Howard bases this novel on personal experiences which enhances its believability and kept me rooting for Del until the end (no matter how many times I wanted to shake her and shout NO!). This book is a terrific read but may need to be taken in small doses.
Darra (Walnut Creek CA)
Like Watching a Trainwreck...
I found reading this gritty novel about the relationship between a drug-addicted, bipolar adult son and his enabling mother akin to watching a train wreck: simultaneously horrifying and mesmerizing. The language is spare - at times almost abrupt - contributing to the sense of tension and anxiety that pervades the third-person, shifting narrative. If you were grabbed by A Million Little Pieces, you might want to pick this one up ... then be prepared to keep those pages turning.