Wednesday, August 04, 2010
About the book:
An older woman growing flowers, a younger woman caught up in the weeds, and the seasons of life.
Twenty years ago, Anna Hott thought she could control everything – her crumbling marriage, her demanding children, her hectic life – by quitting her high-paced job in New York City and moving her family to tranquil Sanibel Island, Florida. But she brought her untamed emotions, her rage toward her cheating husband, and her yearning to write a novel with her. When her husband and children left the house for a week, Anna thought at last she would get her household, her novel, and her mind in order. Instead, her elderly neighbor Fedelina Aurelio knocked on her door bearing flowers and homespun wisdom, and when Fedelina’s recently divorced son arrived, Anna had a test of passions and a test of truth. Now, at 56 with an empty nest, Anna Holt pulls out the incomplete manuscript she started that memorable week and – to find closure for her life and a conclusion for her novel – travels to Indiana to visit Fedelina who lives in a nursing home.
A novel framed within a novel, Sand in My Eyes is both a story about the tension between motherhood and personal dreams as well as a story about women across generations inspiring one another to let beauty persist despite ugly circumstances.
Sand in My Eyes is a poignant story about an overwhelmed mother, Anna, who is bitter and stressed because her life wasn't turning out the way she had hoped it would. She meets a neighbor who is an elderly woman and learns a lot from her, which Anna decides to write into a novel. This story is women's fiction and has some twists in it that are sometimes disappointing, and other times quite gratifying. It is hard to write a review without giving away a spoiler or two so I'll do my best without being too vague. I'll start with how I felt while reading the story.
It started out with rather slow pacing, and the writing was not the best. By that I mean that the prose was sort of flowery and meandering. However, once I was caught up into the story itself, I barely noticed that. Plus, I think as the story picked up pace the writing was cleaner. The formatting was bad, though. Sometimes middle sections of paragraphs were indented and words were hyphenated in the middle of a page. It seemed like someone had changed the spacing so the words were no longer where they were supposed to be. That was a bit distracting.
Regarding her anger towards her husband, part of me understood it and part of me was like, "Come on, honey, if you want him to love you back then you can't ignore him and keep him on the couch every night." I admired that he stayed with her all that time. At the same time I understood her lack of trust, having gone through something similar myself many years ago. Yet when the chance to be happy came along, she said no, even though she wanted to say yes. This emotional back and forth was the thing that I found the most powerful in this story. I really felt like I understood her. I also identified with her longings and fears as a writer, because I am an author myself.
What surprised me most was that she didn't see that she was in some ways the same as her husband. Neglect in marriage and contempt toward one's spouse breeds pain that often attracts married couples to people outside of their union. I was hoping she'd see the connection and at least empathize with her husband. At the same time, the dog went back to his vomit even when a sincere effort on her end finally took place. While not surprised, I felt bad for her. Did she have regrets for trying to make things work? She never said (that I can recall anyway.) Nevertheless, the ending was satisfying. People who enjoy reading stories about personal and emotional growth and different stages in a woman's life will enjoy this book. Once I got into the story, I had a hard time putting it down, which is why I rated it four stars.