It can happen quickly, the dissolution of a family. The husband strays, the wife turns to pills to cope, and the daughter is so far beyond each of their reach that the things she is grappling with/doing are completely unknown to them. A huge home housed the family of three in Lisa Gardner’s Touch & Go, but more than the multiple walls separated them. The author’s words show just how easy it is to disengage, to see only the surface and assume everything is ok. Just because we don’t see our teenage daughter having sex doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Just because we want with all our being for our husbands to connect with us, to stay faithful to us, to feel us, actually sense us just outside the closed door, doesn’t make it happen.
Lisa Gardner intertwines the lives of multiple characters effortlessly, each fitting into one another smoothly, even when the character him- or herself is rough. I found myself caring about so many of the characters, thinking about them long after I’d turned the last page, satisfied with its turnout. I found myself imagining being kidnapped and all that goes into the recovery of stolen persons by law enforcement — how if they work together things can go smoothly, but the minute one faction wants to have all the “we figured it out” glory, much can go awry. She shows easily how captives bond and identify with their captors. Amazingly, she also shows how morals and empathy can be found even in hit men (she made kidnappers likable!).
The first theme introduced in the book is that pain has a flavor. I had to think about it, ask myself if it’s true for me. The only way I can answer that is that certain things do come to mind in moments of fear or pain and I probably recall specific things, but I don’t think they’re food. I can think back to labor with my children and recall smells since one was born on Thanksgiving (but just thinking about turkey doesn’t conjure up thoughts of labor.) With me, it’s more of an association of a food or smell to a memory. My daughter’s elementary school smells like mine did; I have deja vu nearly every time I enter. Cherries remind me of my oldest daughter because I ate so many while pregnant with her. Watermelon reminds me of my middle daughter, for the same reason. Fear has no flavor for me; fear is fear (but I’m sure I could associate it to particularly memories or feelings, just not flavors or tastes.)
Since I enjoy a good mystery or crime novel, I always catch myself trying to determine whodunit. At every twist and turn I may have a new idea. Sometimes, I figure it out early (which isn’t all that fun, continuing to read when I already know the answer) and others, like Touch & Go, I don’t know early on, and as an added bonus, I care enough about the characters once I’ve figured it out, to see how it ends. I kept comparing Ashlyn Denbe to my oldest daughter who is 12. Do I really know all she’s doing when she’s on the computer, on her phone, at school? I like to think so, and we talk often (something that Libby and Ashlyn Denbe hadn’t done in a while) but I imagine there is always the slightest line between being in sync with one’s child and being entirely surprised to find out something your child has done/is doing.
The book touches on so many things, but the reader isn’t left feeling overwhelmed or unable to keep up. Marriage, parenting, coping mechanisms, life choices, crime, lies, sex — Lisa Gardner covers all this and more in Touch & Go and leaves the reader wanting more (I especially want more of one potential relationship.) In fact, I now have to read her previous books. Since Touch & Go was the first of her novels I’ve read, I feel like I’ve missed out on fantastic writing and storytelling.
Of course, no review is complete without something the reviewer would fix. Specifically, the author’s continued, incorrect use of “could care less” irked me. On pg. 284, Z cups his hand around his own ear indicating Libby should speak louder, but the author writes “cupping his hand around her ear.” These aren’t deal breakers for a reader to put the book down, no, but it’s my review and I get to say what irritated me. These things (along with what I consider too many sentence fragments and chapter 12′s second sentence which I want to rewrite entirely) irritated me. But! Those petty things aside, it’s a wonderful, engaging read. Just asked the bread I burned trying to read while making dinner.
Join our discussion for the next few weeks at BlogHer’s Book Club. This week, we’re asking whether pain has a flavor. Does yours?
This is a paid review for BlogHer. The words are all mine (well, the words aren’t mine. I did make up the words, but I didn’t make the words up. Glad we cleared that up.)