The latest Shelf Awareness giveaway novel this pedometer geek read was written by Sandra Hutchison. The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire is the author’s second novel, and it is a contemporary mainstream novel. Here is the extended review.
The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire
by Sandra Hutchison
Published by Sheer Hubris Press, 2014
With the title based on a quote from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and then using an epigraph from it to set off the story, it should have been obvious that this was going to be a thoughtful and provocative story.
Set in 1977, this contemporary mainstream novel is a unique coming-of-age novel. The two main characters, Molly Carmichael and David Asken, are both going to have to grow up the hard way, and it is their unexpected connection, their developing friendship that may help them achieve it.
As the novel opens, Dr. David Asken, his wife Elaine, and their daughter Emily are traveling home by plane when the unthinkable happens. The plane crashes and both Elaine and Emily are killed in the fiery aftermath. David somehow manages to survive the crash albeit he is damaged, guilt ridden, and unable to drive. After the wake, his sister Denise hires Emily’s babysitter, Molly, to help him after she returns to her home.
Grieving, David only wants to get better enough to be able to drive again so that he can kill himself. Frankly, he could care less about eating or the house, but he tolerates his neighbor Molly’s presence in his home as she performs the duties of housekeeper while he recuperates from his injuries.
Molly, a seventeen-year-old, has her own issues. Her parents are divorced. Her mother, an avant-garde artist, has embarrassed her daughter in numerous ways through the years. Most notably, in her old high school, she was known as Tampon Girl, for the artwork modeled after her. Her old friends, particularly her friend Kim, are moving beyond her. She fears ever having a date while friends are partying heavily.
As events spiral out of control for both Molly and David, the pair develops an unexpected connection and friendship. During this difficult year, both of them grieve for losses and help one another deal with the aftermath of suicide attempts and teenage angst.
But will anyone else (her mother, her neighbors, her friends) understand their connection?
Overall, this is a wonderful story, which answers the question: Is there ever a time when doing the wrong thing might be exactly right?
This reader found this novel to be intriguing in its complexity as well as realistic in the emotions of the characters. That it was written by an independent author from a small press, so much the better as this reader loves discovering new authors to read. Her debut novel, The Awful Mess, is now on this reader’s radar, and I am looking forward to reading it soon.