Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shadow Tag

by Louise Erdrich

Shadow Tag: A Novel Sometimes I think that if it weren't for Joanna, I wouldn't know what to read! She has given me so many great books over the years, but every once in a while she slips me a dud. When I got this one, I swear she told me it was a good book. Apparently I was dreaming. The premise is great: A woman battling alcoholism and a bit of an identity crisis is manipulating her painter husband so that he will finally give her the divorce she wants. She does this by writing a diary (that she knows he is reading) and making up lies in hopes that her husband will finally crack.

With this as the setting, Shadow Tag started out with gusto. I loved the manipulation of Gil by Irene in her diary. Gil was an abusive, selfish husband and father. He sort of deserved what he was getting. But then the author proceeds to lose me by intertwining Native American history into the plot. I admit, I completely missed the point here, but I still think this section could have been cut down by at least half. Irene was the subject of Gil's paintings, and Native Americans believe that art houses your soul ... contributing to Irene's struggle. Because of my ignorance to their history, this fact went over my head entirely.

But then Irene became a drunk. Pathetic and weak. And then I actually hated her as much as I hated Gil. When the end of the book was finally approaching, I thought there was no way the author was going to do what I thought she was going to do. And she did. By that point I hated everything about the book and couldn't believe I took the time to finish it. Apparently Joanna felt the same, but I didn't listen. So of course I asked her why she shared it with me in the first place? But isn't it true that sometimes you have to share the worst reads because you need someone else to confirm your feelings? If that was her goal, she succeeded.

Wow, I don't think I've been this harsh on a book since The Shack. Glad they don't come around too often! But I honestly couldn't recommend this one unless you're in the mood to be frustrated.

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