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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Book Review: Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt

Title: Breathing Out the Ghost
Author: Kirk Curnutt
Genre: Fiction - Suspense
Finished: February 7, 2009

Colin St. Claire lost his son. Kidnapped. There was no resolution for him because there was never a body found. All St. Claire had was a suspect and the ghost of his son. Following his "whale", St. Claire goes off on a speed fueled mission to find his son and punish the man he thinks did it. Following him is an ex-detective named Heim who can't seem to let St. Claire go just as much as St. Claire can‘t let go of his son. Sacrificing his own family and his own career, Heim is determined to save St. Claire even if St. Claire won't save himself. Mixed into this is a woman they both come to know, a woman named Sis Pruitt- paths crossing and connecting by the experience of pure and plain suffering- who too lost her daughter Patty when she was murdered. The subject matter isn't something that can be shaken away or read with a light heart. Curnutt's masterful use of description and language is almost poetic. Yet, instead of beautifying the story and masking the horror of what has happened, it only illuminates the darker context under which every one and everything moves and works. Time and time again I caught myself rereading passages, sometimes just because I like how they sounded and sometimes because I wanted to absorb the words into myself. I wanted to understand what was being said and try to feel every bit of it because it was so plainly written. Underneath the prose is something so harshly true to life that it sinks into you. You realize as you read it, â]this is really how we are and think.

Only, we don't often delve that deeply into our nature to find out. Breathing Out the Ghost tells us how people cope. Or rather, how unrealistic an expectation it is for us to expect people to move on after tragedy, as well as how people function and react in unique ways. It's about pain and obsession and destruction and failed attempts at redemption. This book exposes how we think and feel about tragedy, both those who experience it and those who witness it as outsiders. I came to see through reading this book that we all are more comfortable assuming that life goes on. Yet, the truth of the matter is that it's not so easy. So many times as I read, I found myself frustrated with St. Claire. He was selfish to think that his quest was not hurting anyone or that his pain was larger than other people. But isn't it also selfish for people to assume that he should let go and move on? Who was I to judge him? It was all very painful to be a part of, but not in a way that made me want to close the book and avoid picking it back up. This book offers absolutely no resolution. I don't say that to criticize. At the end of the book, no one has found peace. Curnutt doesn't try to create drama so that he can fix it and leave his readers with a warm and fulfilled feeling at the end. The drama is the story itself and reflects the hard truth of reality: sometimes there is no end, there is no peace, there is no happiness or light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes all that there is at the end is just more wandering and wondering, tediously carrying forward for each day.

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