Saturday, August 21, 2010

Books Read: Dusk & Songs Without Words

I picked up a couple of books from the Barnes and Noble bargain section the other day. Well worth the sales prices. Dusk by Susan Gates tells a story of genetic manipulation, military experimentation and what happens when all goes awry. You can probably guess from the cover image how Dusk, the character, was genetically engineered -- I won't give that away but suffice it to say this short read reminded me a bit of Patterson's bird children. Much less developed than Maximum Ride, Dusk inhabits wilderness and wild places, no angel metaphors for her, she eats mice whole then spits out fur and bones. Though the title would suggest an ending of sorts, Dusk vibrates with living.

No so for many of the characters in Ann Packer's Songs Without Words. Such songs are suicide songs--swans songs of the depressed. Sarabeth, lampshade artist and part time realty stager, survived her mother's suicide with the help of her best friend, Liz, who's family took her in after the death. Now grown up the women have a sisterly friendship that is constant in both of their lives. Constant until Liz's teenage daughter, attempts suicide. Packer highlights complex relationships with ease and compassion.

The book reminded me of Cindy Bertossa, a former teacher and friend who lost her sister Jenny to suicide more than a decade ago. Cindy is raising money for the American Society of Suicide Prevention by walking in an Out of Darkness Community Walk. The foundation helped her and her family in their recovery and I've got to think that Sarabeth, from the novel, would have had a much healthier emotional life as an adult if she'd done some of the things I know my friend Cindy has done (but Sarabeth is just a novel character after all).

If you are interested in learning more about suicide prevention or in supporting Cindy in her walk visit her donation page or the American Society of Suicide Prevention.

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