Arthur Rook’s carefree Los Angeles life is turned upside down when his wife Amy, a special effects artist in Hollywood, dies suddenly in a freak accident working on set, making Arthur a 30-something widower. Shocked and devastated, he fixates on a mysterious postcard he stumbles upon while sifting through Amy’s belongings. The postcard leads Arthur to Ruby Falls, NY, where Amy and her best friend Mona grew up together. Coleen Marlo pulls us into this fascinating journey of a man trying to understand his dead wife’s past through her narration of Kate Racculia’s debut novel, This Must Be the Place.
Listening to This Must Be the Place is like listening to a love story told in reverse. Although Arthur and Amy had shared the best times of their lives together in Los Angeles (both were outposts from the Northeast Arthur from Boston, Amy from Ruby Falls), it seems that Arthur barely knows where Amy came from at the onset of this journey. He confronts her past upon arriving at the Darby Jones boarding house in Ruby Falls, where Mona lives with her daughter Oneida and an eclectic variety of tenants. Some of the book’s best moments took place around the dinner table, with Marlo’s playful narration of this cast of unique characters. Arthur and Mona come to terms with Amy’s past and present; meanwhile, Mona’s daughter Oneida struggles with her own plight to find herself.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Racculia’s novel is her thorough development of its characters supporting players included. Marlo is the perfect performer for such a project, as she manages to peel back the layers of each character through voice and emotion. Amy’s secrets unfold at a tumbling rate in This Must Be the Place, and Marlo’s characterizations bring insight and authenticity to this engrossing study of human nature. Suzanne Day
The Darby-Jones boardinghouse in Ruby Falls, New York, is home to Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida, two loners and self-declared outcasts who have formed a perfectly insular family unit: the two of them and the four eclectic boarders living in their house. But their small, quiet life is upended when Arthur Rook shows up in the middle of a nervous breakdown, devastated by the death of his wife, carrying a pink shoe box containing all his wife's mementos and keepsakes, and holding a postcard from 16 years ago, addressed to Mona but never sent.
Slowly the contents of the box begin to fit together to tell a story---one of a powerful friendship, a lost love, and a secret that, if revealed, could change everything that Mona, Oneida, and Arthur know to be true. Or maybe the stories the box tells and the truths it brings to life will teach everyone about love - how deeply it runs, how strong it makes us, and, even when all seems lost, how tightly it brings us together.
With emotional accuracy and great energy, This Must Be the Place introduces memorable, charming characters that refuse to be forgotten.
©2010 Kate Racculia (P)2010 Tantor
"Boston-based Racculia has packed enough emotion, personality, and deft writing into her debut novel to power this small town.... A treasure." (Library Journal)
At the beginning, I thought to my dismay "here comes another one of those characters-scattered-everywhere novels", you know, the ones that make you wish the author had provided a "cast of characters" like in a program for a play, but the assortment of people are all connected after all. It's very well written, really can't say anything negative about it - although there are a few events that straddle behavioral conflicts and cause the reader to question his/her own opinions on various issues. Can't say more without spoiling. I also had a hard time relating to the two main women because their names seemed to me to be so archaic and I couldn't connect with them as modern, attractive, contemporary women. What's in a name? Plenty! I also couldn't tell them apart, and I was always confusing their story lines; oddly, for protagonists they didn't seem as meticulously portrayed as some of the other characters.
I enjoyed this book by Kate Racculia, especially her character development. The story is relatively complex in that it weaves from relationship to relationship yet brings them all together well. It's not violent or disturbing but shows the highs and lows of the human experience.
Each character was well developed and interesting, including the cat!
Just the right amount of words to set each scene in perfect picture. The story line was created with memorable moments that were layered together like a delicious dish, each unique, but absolutely needed for the whole. A great book for an adult and also would be loved by a teen audience.
I truly enjoyed the true to life story line of the mother & daughter in a not a "white picket fence" relationship. Racculia was brilliant in capturing an authentic voice for each.
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