A short while back, I was asked to read and review Garth Stein's book Raven Stole the Moon. I thought it was his new novel but it is actually a reprint of a book he wrote some thirteen years ago. Since my husband and I really enjoyed reading The Art of Racing in the Rain (our joint review here), I jumped at the chance.
I don't want to have any spoilers so here's the story:
While vacationing at a resort in Alaska, Jenna and Robert Rosen lost their only young son in a boating accident and his body was never recovered. Two years later, back in Seattle, Jenna is still unable to come to terms with the guilt and grief over his death. After an angry fight with Robert, Jenna spontaneously drives to Bellingham where she catches the ferry to Alaska knowing she must deal with his death in her own way.
Jenna arrives in Wrangell, the home of her Tlingit grandmother who passed away years earlier. There she meets a few characters who help her search for answers to her son's death and disappearance including Eddie, an injured fisherman who develops quite the crush on Jenna. While searching for answers, Jenna becomes more and more a believer in the Tlingit lore and legend surrounding kushtaka spirits: shape-shifting otter spirits believed to steal the souls of lost people.
I am having a hard time deciding how I like this book. I liked it. I didn't love it. There were too many hard topics to make it really enjoyable but I was sucked into the story anyway. My husband said it's not as engaging as The Art of Racing in the Rain, but we both devoured the story anyway. When I wasn't reading the book, he was.
I think the biggest thing to note is that this is an older book of Garth Stein's and it shows in the writing which is not as fluid as The Art of Racing in the Rain. But I completely loved the Alaskan setting and the Tlingit spirit lore. Garth Stein is part Tlingit and I loved that he really put work into the Alaskan setting.
The hard part about reading this book is the topics of death, grief, and guilt and how they can wreck, ravage, and pull apart a family. It was a great book for discussion between my husband and I though. I found that I had more sympathy with the husband and thought Jenna was insanely selfish while my husband felt they were both mildly awful in their selfishness.
I searched around the web and found a Tlingit image of a kushtaka:
Here's the original cover of Raven Stole the Moon. I definitely like the newer one much better:
***An now for a GIVEAWAY!
Sarah at Terra Communications is letting me give away a copy of Raven Stole the Moon to one lucky U.S. or Canada resident. The contest is open through March 19th so good luck!
To enter, please post a comment with your email address or blog so I know how to get a hold of you.
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