October 03, 2011

Review: Hand Me Down World by Lloyd Jones

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (reprint edition)
Publish Date: September 27, 2011

A woman washes ashore in Sicily. She has come from north Africa to find her son, taken from her when he was just days old by his father and stolen away to Berlin. With nothing but her maid's uniform and a knife stashed in a plastic bag, she relies on strangers— some generous, some exploiting—to guide her passage north.
These strangers tell of their encounters with a quiet, mysterious woman in a blue coat—each account a different view of the truth, a different truth. And slowly these fragments of a life piece together to create a spellbinding story of the courage of a mother and the versions of truth we create to accommodate our lives.

If you have ever wanted to read a story about true courage, resilience and strength, than this would be the only one you'd ever need to read.

This novel follows the story of an African woman (who's name you're not even sure of throughout the entire novel) working as a maid in a tourist resort. It's there that she falls for a tourist who gets her pregnant, but tricks her and leaves her - taking their baby with him to Berlin. You are heartbroken for this woman before her story has even began. The story then follows...we'll call her Ines for now...as she travels from Africa to Berlin in search of her child.

What will strike you right from the start is that the first two-thirds of the novel is told entirely from other peoples' points of view: The maid Ines worked with, the trucker who gave her a ride through Europe, even the person who hired her for over 2 years. It actually got to a point where I was beginning to wonder whether we'd even hear from Ines herself. Everyone else just had opinions of her and everything she was going through. She was a great character of mystery, and it was clear from everyone else's stories about her, that she was a mystery to all of them as well.

But then...the last one-third of the novel was all Ines, and as she re-told her entire story from the beginning, this novel just explodes - in a good way! Ines' story is quite different than those told by the other people, and you start to remember that everything you've been told was just heresay. What can you actually believe? And as you read through Ines' words, you see just how strong she really is. What she's been through and how much more she'll go through just to be with her child. Her courage is inspiring and I found myself not wanting to close this book. I just wanted to know about more Ines and I wanted to know how the rest of her life would unfold.

5 out of 5 stars!

Let me know what you think!!

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