Book Review | Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik

shelter in place coverA man in the Pacific Northwest falls in love with a woman. Over the years, they live in a hotel in Cannon Beach, OR, a rental house in White Pine, WA, an apartment in Seattle and a house they build in the country. Joey works in bars and deals with bipolar disorder, which he suspects his mother also has. Tess works with Joey and becomes passionate about taking a stand against violence directed at women. Sometimes Joey and Tess spend a few years apart, but they are together when he receives word that his mother has beaten a man to death with a hammer. Before too long, Tess and Joey have joined his father, in moving to the prison town where Mom is serving her sentence. Shelter in Place is a beautiful story of love and family.

I chose this book after having enjoyed Maksik’s previous novel, A Marker to Measure the Drift, and I found it even better. The characters are very realistic and the writing style is beautiful. Though the story is not told in a completely linear manner, I found the narrative choices enhancing and easily understandable. Maksik renders a touching story of love and life. Certainly one of my favorite reads this year. This novel would appeal to fans of epic love stories, those with bipolar disorder, or those hoping to better understand bipolar loved ones. Short chapters make the book fairly quick to read. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Shelter in Place, may be interested in Oola by Brittany Newell (2017).

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Book Review | A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik

book cover  A Marker to Measure Drift A Marker to Measure Drift begins after tragic events in Liberia, when 24 year old Jacqueline has fallen into a vagabond lifestyle. Hungry and alone, she wanders from place to place, trying to avoid danger while looking for somewhere to make her new home. Jacqueline is living in a cave on the Greek Island of Santorini, attempting to squelch hunger pains and eat enough to allow her to walk upright all day. She silently battles with past demons by using her intense and immediate needs to block them out. As Jacqueline plods on, the reader is given glimpses into Jacqueline’s past, flashbacks involving her pregnant sister, her government employed father, her drink-in-hand mother and her diplomat boyfriend. The book comes full circle only at the end when Jacqueline’s account of events in Liberia takes us back to how everything began.

This book was a great read. Though most of the book was fairly slow paced, it was very interesting. Maksik’s descriptions allow the reader to visualize each piece of the story. He allows those unfamiliar with day-to-day suffering to get a better understanding of it through the text. A Marker to Measure Drift is certainly not an uplifting book that you would want to read to your kids, but it is a gripping story about surviving that would make a great book club read. Check it out from a library near you.