Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman

Audio CD, 8 disks (9.5 hours)
Published August 28th 2009 by Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged (first published 2001)
ISBN: 1441812520 (ISBN13: 9781441812520)
original title: Blue Diary
setting:  Monroe Bridge (United States)
4 stars overall / 4 stars audio narration 

Goodreads Synopsis:
For more than thirteen years, devoted father and husband Ethan Ford has been running from his past. But one day the police show up at his door-and his life as an irreproachable family man and heroic volunteer fireman begins to come apart.

"Investigate[s] the themes of devotion, betrayal, guilt and forgiveness in trenchantly effective ways." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"Hoffman ably sends her theme of loss and deception reverberating across several well-made subplots... fast-moving." (New York Times Book Review)

My Thoughts:
** spoiler alert ** Can one forgive the unforgivable? Does living an exemplary life after committing a terrible crime absolve one of guilt? Does it make the consequences unnecessary? These are the questions that come to bear as Blue Diary progresses, and the answers are not easy to say out loud.

Jorie Ford finds herself having to grapple with these questions as she is faced with the fact that her husband has committed a terrible murder, and though he has been a trustworthy and responsible man since then, he has done so under the cover of a stolen identity. When he is exposed, the resulting surprise, anger, dismay and hurt experienced by his friends and family are understandable and expected. His remorse is genuine, as is his sloughing off of his former self. He understands the legal consequences, and willingly awaits them. However, the consequence that he doesn't want to live with is losing Jorie & Collie. He doesn't want to suffer the loss of his family...understandably. He seems to expect them - and especially Jorie - to be emotionally unchanged toward him despite the horrors of his past, and therefore it hits him doubly hard when, in the end, she has to walk away.

Hoffman doesn't really make an authorial judgment pro or con in how Jorie handles the situation. However, as a reader, I completely related to her inability to return to her husband and support him once she knew what really happened. How could she? Regardless if she loved him, she was repulsed by all that he did - not just the murder, but making a life under a stolen identity, and making her an unwitting party to the deception. She grieved hard for the loss of the life she knew, but in the end, she was simply finished...empty...and she took their son and walked away. Who could blame her?

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