Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A new author to watch

Rebecca Johnson, contributing editor at Vogue magazine, has written a great first novel, And Sometimes Why. It's about a family, the McMartins, with two teenage daughters, Miranda and Helen. One ordinary morning, the girls argue about whose turn it is to drive the car, and Miranda wins. Helen ends up hitching a ride on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle (unbeknownst to her parents, who don't even know about the existence of this boyfriend). From that point on, it is no ordinary morning. And there are no more ordinary days left for the McMartins. Helen and her guy are involved in a serious accident involving another car. The guy is killed, and Helen is left in a comatose state. Johnson lets us see the unraveling of this family as they deal with their grief, and the writing is heartfelt and true. In fact, I wondered if the author had been through something similar, because the words seemed so right. The driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident, who was not at fault, is Harry Harlow, a celebrity game show host. Johnson also takes us into his life and how the accident changed his life and really shook things up for him. He comes across as a gentle person who has not always been smart about his choices and in fact has just let life happen to him. He seems bewildered at where he finds himself. Although this novel is based on a tragedy, there is much to enjoy here--good writing, interesting characters, even a little humor.

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