I am not a contemporary reader.
I do not enjoy reading about life if it isn’t non-fiction, so the fact that I read Secrets of the Worry Dolls by Amy Impellizzeri in its entirety is impressive to me.
When the book came to me, I had been reading big books, filled with fantasy, romance, and history, so when it came time to pic up this 312 page novel, I sluffed it off as an easy read.
Boy was I wrong.
Packed in these 312 pages is a book that could have easily been a 1000 page plus novel, filled with twists and turns, secrets and lies, joy and loss.
But with all of these plot devices, did I enjoy the book? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
According to Mayan tradition, if you whisper your troubles to the Worry Dolls, they will do the worrying instead of you–therefore, it follows that Worry Dolls are the keepers of a great many secrets . . .
On the eve of the end of the world–according to the Mayan calendar–Mari Guarez Roselli’s secrets are being unraveled by her daughter, Lu.
Lu’s worry dolls are at-capacity as she tries to outrun the ghosts from her past–including loved ones stolen on 9/11–by traveling through her mother’s homeland of Guatemala, to discover the painful reasons behind her own dysfunctional childhood, and why she must trust in the magic of the legend.
This book came to me at exactly the right time.
I have been reading pretty chunky fast-paced novels as of late, so the fact that this was a slow but interesting read probably made me appreciate it more.
All of the issues covered in this novel, the Guatemalan civil war, 9/11, and the fictitious but based on real events plane crash, were all done in such a tasteful way that I don’t think the story would be the same if these weren’t included.
As for the characters, my heart broke for Lu and Mari, but as Lu says near the end, “all the people I lost broke my heart anew. But now my heart is taped back together by…[spoiler].
Romance wasn’t needed to fix the characters, new beginnings did that for them, and because of that I have found a new appreciation for contemporary novels.
I must admit I haven’t read many novels that deal with magical realism, and I must say I don’t think it hindered the story in any way.
The scene that sticks out for me, which does contain spoilers so I am going to say it as basically as possible in hopes that those who have read it know what I’m talking about, is when Lu and Rae speak to one another near the end of the book.
It was a heartfelt moment, one that wouldn’t have been possible if magical realism hadn’t been weaved throughout the fabric of the rest of the novel.
I also really enjoyed the ending. It was a ‘happy’ one in an unconventional way, which fit because this book is also pretty unconventional in how it deals with family, loss, and survival.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.