Sunday, August 4, 2013

Is Delilah Fixable?

Every family has its skeletons in the closet, the elephants in the room, and the secrets that aren't really kept, but Delilah's family is more dysfunctional than most. In Sarah Ockler's Fixing Delilah, we see a family that has never been able to be truly honest... until now.

Delilah's mother drags her away for the summer, but it isn't for some dorky family vacation. Her grandmother, whom she hasn't seen since she was eight, has died, and Delilah's mother and her aunt, both estranged, must pack up the house, make the arrangements, and settle her affairs. Delilah doesn't understand why no one has spoken to each other in years, but her mother refuses to speak about anything to do with her past, even about Delilah's father who died before she was even born. 

Returning to Vermont is emotional for Delilah, who has been getting in a lot of trouble back home, but when she reunites with Patrick, a boy she used to play with when they were kids, she realizes there are more than just bittersweet memories she was forced to leave behind. Having left her boyfriend, Finn, back home, she begins to realize he might not be as great as she once thought he was. Patrick embodies everything she has been missing for all these years. But when they start really getting into the breaking down of her grandmother's house, all those secrets and hushed conversations start coming to the top. Now Delilah's workaholic mother must answer Delilah's questions whether she wants to or not. There are things Delilah deserves to know... even if she won't like the answers once she gets them.

I loved Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer, and while I didn't like this book more than that one, this was still a really great, emotional, character-driven story. There were parts of this story where you say Delilah's grief and her attempts to reconcile her life and her grandmother's death and her family secrets that were so touching and gut-wrenching, I was instantly reminded of Ockler's supreme ability to transform a novel into a true emotional experience. For instance, in the sifting through of the house, everyone had avoided her grandmother's bedroom, so Delilah goes in, she puts on her grandmother's sweater, her necklace, uses her talcum powder, and tries to reconnect with the grandmother she really lost when she was eight. It was only a few pages, but this description was so poignant and bittersweet I was in complete awe of it. I don't know how Ockler does it, but she can describe grief like a master painter can transport you to their landscape. 

This was a great story for any emotional, sensitive young woman. It doesn't have any rampaging action, but the story behind Delilah's family is so raw and emotional, that kind of student who is deeply sensitive will truly love the experience of this book. I have grown to really love Ockler, and look forward to reading more of her books in the future. She knows her characters, and while the stories aren't the most action-packed, the characters are so real, you will feel like you are living life right along side them. 

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