“I hope you didn’t spend money on a hardback book,” was my Mom’s comment last year, after I put my box full of Christmas gifts in the mail. Her perspective: hardback books cost too much money! She can go to the used book store and get the same story for a fraction of the cost. My perspective: with the discounts offered these days, hardback books cost less than almost any other entertainment, they last longer, and you can enjoy them again and again.
Which is why, when I bundled up this year’s presents, I filled the box the rest of the way with books from my own bookshelves. All trade paperbacks, in deference to her preference. (The wrapped present was a copy of the fascinating The False Friend by Myla Goldberg…because only when I give her a brand-new book am I guaranteed not to give her something she already has!)
One I did not give her was Jane Hamilton’s Disobedience. I plucked it off the shelf, opened it to remind myself what it was about and to see if it was “Mom-worthy,” and realized that I had never read it. Evidently I bought it and shelved it!
Wow. What a great book. It’s a terrific story, very well-written, with insight into what makes people tick and what holds a family together. Disobedience is told in first person by Henry, a 17-old-boy who has discovered that his mother (a charming, lovely, and strong-willed musician) is having an affair. Dad seems clueless, but turns out to be not only clued-in, but possibly the most generous, loving and patient man on the planet. Younger sister Elvira is deeply committed to civil war re-enactment, with Dad’s blessing, and masquerades as a boy to do so. All characters – including relatively minor ones – are well-drawn and believable.
Disobedience is a book that makes me wish I were in a book club; it would be wonderful to discuss it! Alas, I am not, and I probably missed the boat on discussing the book, as it was published in 2001.