Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Don't make the mistake I did and confuse Ann Packer with Ann Patchett. Ann Patchett wrote some very good books, including Bel Canto and Truth and Beauty. That's the author I thought I was getting when I checked out Songs Without Words.
I would call this "chick lit" except that it does a disservice to all the chicks I know and like. It probably would be better labeled as "writers workshop" lit. Some time, some place, someone told Packer that lots of detail enrich a story. It does, when used with discretion. But there should be a point to the detail. It should show you things about the character or plot that help you better understand the story. Pointless detail makes you want to scream "get on with the story!!!"
The story is about how a family and its friends are impacted when their teen-age daughter tries to kill herself. To complicate matters, the mother's closest friend lost her mother by suicide when she was a teenager. The pressures that this action puts on the family are shown with great insight, knowledge that is probably only learned from first hand experience. (According to my friend, Mr. Google, Packer's father committed suicide when she was a teenager.) The weakest points are the beginning of the book when the family's life is too idyllic to be believable and the end, which is a little too much and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after for my tastes.
I credit Packer with telling a story on a difficult subject, it's just that the book would be so much better if it had been more tightly edited.
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