About a month ago, I received an email from the author with the an offer of a free galley copy of her book in exchange for my honest review. This is my first time being approached by an author (although oddly, it has happened two more times in the last few weeks) and although I know that there is a lot to be gained by getting the book out there and reviewed, I think that it does take a certain amount of bravery to stand behind your creative work and solicit some honest feedback. I salute Martine Lacombe for this move!
My biggest overriding sentiment was that I wish that this had been nonfiction, instead of fiction. Lacombe included a letter with the galley explaining that the story had been loosely based on true events. I have a gut feeling that the true story would have been better than the fictional version. I also think that this letter messed with my perception of the book, as I kept wondering which parts were true.
Silver Orphan is the story of two isolated souls. Brooke is a young, narcissistic and highly materialistic pharmaceutical representative, who uncharacteristically decides to pick up an elderly man hitchhiking home from the grocery store. Brooke and her new friend, Frank, develop a close bond that lingers as Brooke is left to deal with Franks remains and legacy when he dies nine months after they meet.
Silver Orphan was a fast, enjoyable read. I liked the overriding themes and the idea of two strangers coming together under unusual circumstances, especially one that is motivated by compassion.
In the last few years, I've spent a lot of time as a caretaker for my elderly relatives that do not have children. I think the theme of the ever growing aging problem and shifting cultural dynamics is one that is not discussed enough. People don't like to think about the impending mortality of themselves or loved ones. Discussing the care of our elders is a topic that we often put off until it smacks us in the face. I appreciated these themes in Lacombe's story.
I had a very difficult time connecting to Brooke. She is really an awful person on so many levels and although Frank touches her life, she is still quite the Bitch throughout. She has a toxic personality that made me feel distant from her and sometimes question the realism of her actions. I needed her to be just a little more venerable, so that she didn't come across as such caricature of a person.
I found the history of the persecution of Italian Americans to be very interesting. I really did not know much about it prior to this book. However, a lot of the other historical details in the story are laid out in an obvious way, the information worked into the dialogue in an unnatural manner. I feel like a lot of this could be edited out of the book to make a stronger story. I think that it's historical information that many of the readers would already be privy to. It made the book read more like non-fiction, like an interview with a person explaining all of the little details, rather than two people having a conversation. It made the dialogue clunky and awkward at times.
Overall, I enjoyed Lacombe's novel and would check out her future creative endeavors. I am glad that she contacted me and that I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Silver Orphan.