Buy This Book: A Scattered Life

I so admire this for an opening sentence: Skyla’s earliest memory of Thomas was linked with the smell of beer and the taste of blood. This is how Karen McQuestion begins her novel, A Scattered Life. I was hooked from the start. Skyla ends up marrying Thomas and within a few years, they have a daughter Nora and settle into regular life. But life is never regular and neither are people and Skyla and Thomas are no exception. They watch with interest, and a good deal of consternation on Thomas’s part, as a new family, the Bears, Roxanne and Ted and their crew of five kids, moves in next door. Five boys, no less, and counting if Roxy has her way. She’s longing for a girl. Skyla has always been a bit reserved. Her life until Thomas was troubled--scattered, is how her mother-in-law, Audrey, describes it--her upbringing uncertain. Skyla has never experienced anything like the freewheeling lifestyle the Bears engage in and she’s drawn to it. Roxanne’s raucous laughter, her near-bawdy ways, the constant churning motion that five children can generate. Skyla and Roxanne are so different and yet they find a warm and loving friendship in each other. Audrey couldn’t disapprove more.

But Audrey is unhappy in any case. Her job as a full-time mother is done for the most part and she is at loose ends with too much time to worry about other people’s business. If Skyla would only allow it, Audrey would step in and run Skyla’s household, raise Skyla’s daughter. She would fold Skyla’s bed linen just so and rearrange her kitchen cabinets, etc. and do it all with such precision and authority. Audrey can’t imagine why a motherless girl like Skyla isn’t more welcoming of her interference. It’s so confusing that Skyla prefers Roxanne’s company and when Skyla finds work in a shop where a psychic gives readings, Audrey is incensed. No one else in the family realizes it, that their lives are unraveling, that something has to be done. And oh, boy, what Audrey does . . . well, as I said earlier, on the surface, A Scattered Life appears to be a story about ordinary people, people as regular as your next door neighbors, say. But life is seldom so predictable.

Sometimes a terrible and sad thing can happen and regular takes a sharp detour into calamity. Sometimes our gravest flaws turn out to be our saving grace. Another gift of this story is the ending, the way it unfolds out of who the characters are. It isn’t a pat ending or a necessarily happy one. It’s human. Like life, which is at times messy and unpredictable. And that’s what makes it satisfying. A Scattered Life was an altogether warm and thoughtful read.

On August 23rd, A Scattered Life will be released from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I'm sure I can't be the only one who will love this cover!

Visit Karen's website for the blog entry about the release. It will make you smile. And visit her website to learn more about her and her other books and a bit about her amazing journey that began with e-novels.


Nancy J. Parra said…
Will put it on my TBR list. Cheers~
frankdrury said…
I agree. This is one of my favorite novels in quite awhile. I read it on Kindle and immediately wrote a short review on Amazon and contacted Karen, telling her much I liked it.

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