Sunday, April 3, 2016

Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen
Published April 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: the publisher through Netgalley

Publisher's Summary:
For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley. Mimi Miller tells about her life with intimacy and honesty. As Mimi eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”

My Thoughts: 
I'm half tempted just to say to you here "just, please, read this book" and leave it at that. Seriously. Unless you don't like lovely coming-of-age stories, complex stories about families, strong characters and vivid settings.

Miller's Valley impressed from the first pages.
"I felt kind of sorry for the woman. It was her job to make it sound as though one place to live was just as good as another, just as good as the place you'd brought your babies home to from the hospital fifty years before, just as good as the place where your parents had died and, in a few cases that you could tell made the government people really uncomfortable, were buried. They could make moving to a new house with a nice dry basement sound like a good deal, but there was no way they could put a pretty face on digging up a coffin that went into the ground before the First World War."
The government is making a move to buy up the property in Miller's Valley with plans to flood the valley. It's a battle that will be the backdrop of Mimi's life for more than 15 years, years she spends  struggling to adjust to changes in her family and to find her place in the world.
"...more than anything I missed the Mimi I used to be. Getting older wasn't working out so well of me. My brother's words had made me think a lot about what I wanted, where I wanted to end up, and the truth was I had no idea in the world. I figured it should be clear, like that big strip of yellow tape they held across the end of the course for the sack race at the volunteer fire department picnic: this, here, this is how you win."
There was nothing I didn't love about this book. I highly recommend it for book clubs; I know mine will be reading it this year. With themes of family, love, friendship, what makes a home, loss, and life choices there is a lot to discuss. It all circles back to family, in the end, and home. Mimi learns, just as Dorothy did so long ago, there's no place like home.

This is my fifth book by Quindlen, maybe my favorite (although Every Last One may still hold that place for the way I was able to connect with it); it is definitely a book that will be among my favorite books of 2016.

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