Blame by Michelle Huneven is risky, prickly, and astonishingly lovely. Patsy's redemption is anchored by being good, not staying clean, even though she never relapses. Huneven approaches addiction as a messy, elemental impulse that crushes some with liquor and pills, while collapsing others, like Cal Sharp Patsy's three-decades-older husband, a pillar of AA with the compulsion to save as many lost souls as can be crammed into their ranch home.
Hillary Huber narrates Blame and her hypnotic storyteller's voice coaxes a rich, rhythmic word flow out of Huneven's droll language. There is empathy as well as a sneaky, subversive acidity to Huber's logic-driven Patsy; a deliberate, academic pacing. Patsy's rakish ex-boyfriend, Brice, is also humanized by Huber, who registers Brice's grief over losing his lover, Gilles, by curdling his surfer drawl with a gritty skim of impatience. Blame is a masterpiece, and when Huber, as Patsy, observes, "Guilt was like the check on a table. Somebody had to pick it up", it clicks that yes, finally, this is the meaning of recovery. Nita Rao
In fact, two Jehovah's Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead, run over in Patsy's driveway, and Patsy will spend the rest of her life trying to atone. She goes to prison, gets sober, and upon her release finds a new community (and a husband) in AA. She resists temptations, strives for goodness, and becomes a selfless teacher, friend, and wife.
Then, decades later, another unimaginable piece of information turns up. For the reader, it is an electrifying moment; a joyous, fall-off-the-couch-with-surprise moment. For Patsy, it is more complicated. Blame must be reapportioned, her life reassessed.
Blame is a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.
(P)2009 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Brilliant observations, excellent characters, spiffy dialogue and a clever plot keep readers hooked, and the final twist turns Patsy's new life on its ear. Huneven's exploration of misdeeds real and imagined is humane, insightful and beautiful." (Publishers Weekly)
I found this novel by Michelle Huneven, to be an amazing character study. Her (the protagonist Patsy) fall and eventual redemption following a horrible accident done in an alcoholic blackout was believable and compelling. So often a person is judged by their worst act but in Patsy's case, her friends, family, and victims family are the first to forgive. Long before she is able to forgive herself. Some of the most telling parts in this novel are scenes between Patsy and her victims husband. I found the AA program sections and scenes with her therapist both compelling and informative. The reader, Hillary Huber, was one of the best readers I have heard in along time. All in all, an amazing reading/listening experience!
This book has an excellent premise, but it is not even slightly evident that the protagonist "spends the rest of her life trying to atone". Perhaps the writer had some sort of internal angst in mind when she created this character and her situation, but actually from the reader's point of view, this person suffers very little for her misdeeds, and any spiritual growth experienced by "Patsy", does not come across. After her minimum sentence she goes blithely back into her previous life, where her employer(s) don't care the slightest bit about a felony in her resume, and proceeds to engage in a life of privilege, parties and serial monogamy. The AA stuff is strictly background noise, and the handily-acquired AA husband described in the publisher's summary is already discarded by the end of the book.
I was seriously looking forward to this read, but I only found too many shallow characters whose behaviors lack consequence, too much dialogue - the lazy way to tell a story - and just too many names to remember. If my attention drifted the slightest bit, I was all of a sudden in the midst of an entirely new cast!
This book does not lend itself well for the Audible Book user. It runs with too many characters and flows poorly. Only order if you can listen to the book from beginning to end without breaks.
Normally, I don't write reviews, but am making an exception in this case to say that after investing many an hour in this book, but ending is a terrible disappointment. The main character, Patsy, behaves like a doormat, though the author sets the reader up to expect more and better. What a let down.
As soon as I finished this book, I was recommending it my friends. I listened to the majority of the book while travelling for work. The performance made the characters seem very real and they were great company on my travels. By the end Patsy seemed like an old friend that I had known for years, supporting her through her trials and successes. The story was good, catching my interest quickly and the characters well developed.
I was waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever did. I got it based on a recommendation that it would take you on surprising journey. Instead it went nowhere. I kept waiting for a surprise that never came.
In Sunlight and in Shadow
Very good reader, except for when she did the characters of Joey and Gilles. Her voice was kind of shriek-y when she did those younger voices.
I'm bored and annoyed.
If you ever drank so much you had to ask your friends and family how much fun you had because you honestly don't remember, then this story will cause a queasy feeling in your gut. Forget running out to look at your car - if you even remember where you left it, hoping it's in the garage! - to see if there are any new dents on it, you woke up in the drunk tank. Again. This is the picture of untreated alcoholism and what its consequences might be. It's also a great little slice of life in upper-crust Los Angeles in the early to mid 1980s. The author is spot on in terms of prison life, and in terms of AA culture. The story has a very real feel to it, a sense of having been there, known the players, been part of it. You may not enjoy this story... IF you are an untreated alcoholic. It will be uncomfortable for you.
No I would not buy another book by this author. Please consider another book. This is an incredibly boring and meandering story.
I want my 10 hrs back. I was captive on a 12 hr road trip and kept expecting something interesting to happen but it didn't. My wife and I just kept looking at each other everytime the story meanederd to a new boring subject.
I loved the fact that you got to care about the main character. Having been the wife of a recovering alcoholic, I could relate and this story was perfect. I couldn't wait to continue to listen so I could find out what happened to her and to her family.
My favorite was the main character's gay boyfriend. His name escapes me at the moment but he was the one I most wanted to know a little better. I wanted him for MY friend.
No, I have not.
Probably the husband of the Jehovah;s Witness woman that was killed. His capacity for forgiveness is something that I could learn a lot from.
Though slow in several parts of the book, the overall story is excellent. It certainly helps the reader realize how quickly life can change and how scary blackout drinking can become. I liked it a lot and recommend it, especially to those readers who are in or seeking recovery.
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