Monday, September 29, 2008

Review: Between Here and April

In Between Here and April, author Deborah Copaken Kogan delves into the psyche of mothers, focusing on the choices they make to protect their children.

While watching a performance of Medea, former war journalist Elizabeth Burns experiences a long-suppressed memory of her first-grade best friend, April Cassidy, who disappeared from her life with little explanation. One day, she was there at school...the next, she wasn't.

Determined to find out what happened to her, Elizabeth embarks on a journey that will cause her to re-examine her own role as a mother to two young daughters.

Her research into the mystery reveals newspaper articles that spell out the incident. April's mother killed herself, along with April and her sister, in what Elizabeth finds out is dubbed "altruistic filicide." In this case, "mothers who kill themselves and their children simultaneously...think their children will be better off dead, rather than spending the rest of their lives without a mother."

Elizabeth, now a television producer, decides to turn the story into a documentary. Yet, faced with varying accounts of what led April's mother to this horrifying point, she wonders how to relay this story, with few "hard" facts to tell, realizing that empathy, which is hard to imagine, is the only way to successfully capture the emotions behind the decision.

I think this book will resonate with mothers, whether they agree with the emotions or not, and even though I'm not a mother, it still had an impact on me. There were a few distracting storylines throughout that made me impatient for the author to get back to the heart of this novel, but I still sped through the book.

This book seems largely autobiographical for this author, with some creative license engaged to fill in the holes of the facts to make it a novel. One thing that caught my eye as I started was a note on the copyright page that the "who, where, when and how" of April's disappearance were based on real-life events in the author's life...and that the "why" was the product of her imagination. Beyond that particular element of the book, I got the sense that it was the author's own story in every other way, as well, from her marriage and family to her career.

It makes the book more chilling to realize how much based in reality the events actually are...yet knowing how closely it ran to reality took something away from this for me, as a novel, as well. Does that make sense?


Anna said...

Wow. Sounds like a powerful book.


Carol Ford said...
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Carol Ford said...

I have not come across this book before but it sounds like a great read.