Friday, January 7, 2022

Helen Fisher - Faye, Faraway

Every night, as Faye puts her daughters to bed, she thinks of her own mother, Jeanie, who died when Faye was eight. The pain of that loss has never left her, and that’s why she wants her own girls to know how very much they are loved by her—and always will be, whatever happens.
Then one day, Faye gets her heart’s desire when she’s whisked back into the past and is reunited not just with her mother but with her own younger self.
Jeanie doesn’t recognize grown-up Faye as her daughter, even though there is something eerily familiar about her. But the two women become close friends and share all kinds of secrets—except for the deepest secret of all, the secret of who Faye really is. Faye worries that telling the truth may prevent her from being able to return to the present day, to her dear husband and beloved daughters. Eventually she’ll have to choose between those she loved in the past and those she loves in the here and now, and that knowledge presents her with an impossible choice.
If only she didn’t have to make it...

Comment: This was my first read of 2022.
I was given this book for my birthday but only now managed to pick it up. The author's name was unknown to me but I was interested enough in the blurb to want to read it.

In this book we meet Faye, a happily married woman with two daughters, a fulfilling job and what seems to be a quiet but happy life. The only problem is that Faye still feels sad she grew up without her mother, someone she misses terribly although the couple who raised her was loving and gave her all the support she needed. One day, Faye is looking around on her attic and she finds a box, which somehow and very suddenly, transports her to 1977, to the period immediately before to her mother's death. Faye discovers she can talk to her mother while her child self is near too and this allows Faye to find solace in seeing her mother again. When she gets back to her own time, she finds out only three hours have passed while in the past it was a lot longer than that. Can she take the risk of doing it again? What consequences could there be? How will her husband react to her cagey behavior?

I'm usually a fan of time traveling or magic realism stories. I find the suspending of disbelief to be easy for me if the plot is well done and if the characters's challenges/goals are likable and easy to empathize. In the case of this book, I had no trouble liking Faye nor accepting she wanted closure on what happened to her mother, who died in mysterious circumstances. She had love growing up but she remembered her mother and besides missing her, she feels she wasn't able to let go, with everything about her death being so secretive.

This is a very good base for a time traveling story because of course we want the main character to have closure, to learn something and how that affects her behavior is an important part of the story, and also for the reader to connect and to root for her. However, I must confess the process to allow the time traveling was a little hard to accept for Faye used a card box and somehow we didn't have enough "rules" to make it seem like it was more natural. Of course, this is difficult to imagine on its own, but often authors use ways to make it seem like it could happen.

The main reason for this plot is to allow Faye to learn about what happened to her mother and, with that, she will be able to move on emotionally. I found this reason to be acceptable for often we let things become heavy on our minds and hearts and that does affect a lot of our reactions to what surrounds us. But Faye goes a little deeper and not only does she learn more about her mother - bringing her identity closer to the memories she had of her - but she gets to interact and become part of her mother's life, to the point where she is even see by her mother as a "guardian angel".

Now, this certainly makes for some moral dilemmas, because how much of this interaction shapes up Faye's mother destiny, or not, and how could this possibly explain why she disappeared? I found the solution for these complications a little hard to accept because it felt as if the author went for a more... whimsical kind of scenario than one that would really make sense according to the "rules" the reader has come to recognize from the plot development. I found the end a bit too convenient and not really up to the kind of emotional difficulties which started Faye on the whole thing.

Portuguese cover
Another interesting theme in play here was how this experience affects Faye's relationships, mostly with her husband. I think this was used as a way to counterbalance Faye's bewilderment with the situation, for everything can be seen as good or as bad and to her husband, her aloofness and seemingly emotional distance felt unnatural and made him suspicious. I think this was probably the most realistic part of the novel and caused some conflict which I think at least balanced the other elements which were too easy to be explained/developed.

All in all, I liked the idea but the plot development wasn't as well done or as strong as I thought it would be, but Faye is likable and her husband and daughters cute. I think I was more pleased with their dynamics and the interesting element of her husband consideration to become a vicar than with the main element of the book. This was an "ok" read, not really a great one.
Grade: 6/10

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