LITTLE LOVELY THINGS: A Novel
Maureen Joyce Connolly
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: 04.02.2019
Genre: Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Domestic Life > Literary > Suspense
Page Count: 304 Pages
My Rating: 5 STARS
About the Author (From the Author’s Website):
Maureen is a former owner of a consulting firm that helped specialty drug companies to develop medications for ultra-rare diseases. Maureen received her Bachelor’s degree in physiology from Michigan State University and her Master’s degree in Liberal Studies from Wesleyan University. Her background in science and love of the natural world informs and inspires her writing. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is her debut as a novelist. She is also an award-winning poet, published in diverse outlets such as Emory University’s Lullwater Review and Yankee Magazine.
Maureen is a foodie and appreciates interesting recipes. She also enjoys painting (especially flowers and sycamore trees), competing in races with her dragon boat team (Go Fierce)!, and reading (of course). She relishes spending time with her three children, her husband and her pets; a ridiculous terrier named Huckleberry, and a plump orange cat, Pumpkin.
Book Description (From the Author’s Website):
What would you do in the face of enormous loss?
It’s 1993, the first Saturday in September—impossibly hot—and Claire Rawlings is driving her two girls to the daycare at the University of Chicago Hospital where as a resident, she is scheduled for rounds. Ignoring the troublesome signs of a sudden allergic reaction, Claire exits off the freeway to safety, only to pass out cold. When she wakes up, her daughters are gone.
LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is a haunting and prismatic exploration of how tragedy can transform lives. With lyrical prose and page-turning momentum, the story unfolds through the viewpoint of four characters: Claire, the devastated yet strong-willed mother; Moira, the transient who finds herself thrust into instant motherhood; soulful Jay, whose grisly discovery brings him to the center of the tragedy; and Andrea, the scrappy and wildly talented tomboy.
Traversing the landscape of loss, LITTLE LOVELY THINGS ties together the threads of lives shattered, hope lost, and—finally—joy restored.
First things first, BRAVO to Maureen Joyce Connolly on her debut novel LITTLE LOVELY THINGS. I am not going to give a synopsis of the book as the book description does this for you, without showing its hand. Many reviewers including Kirkus reviews merely provide an outline of the book. However, if I give the reader a summary of Connolly’s novel, there is no reason to read the book.
“Wakhán Thánka,” he repeated, calling to the Great Spirit, to the souls of his mother and his grandmother, because what he had just found was beyond…” – LITTLE LOVELY THINGS
I will say this much about this must-read book. Connolly gives us a novel that oscillates between loss, hope, despair, empathy and a myriad of other feelings that run the gauntlet of emotions. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS is a gripping and heart-wrenching suspense novel that evokes emotions whether you want to feel them or not. She weaves intuition and spirit world into her book through the inclusion of the traditional Irish Travelers’-clan and a Sioux member of the Lakota nation tribe.
Connolly nailed her plot, characters, settings, Points of View (POVs), the conflict, et cetera. And speaking of POVs, it is difficult for a seasoned author to write using shifting POVs; however, Connolly did so seamlessly as if she were an experienced author; and did so without leaving me feeling lost or confused at any time from the time I started reading Connolly’s novel until I had read the last page.
Connolly wasted no time grabbing my attention and interest from the beginning of her novel by catalyzing her characters from the beginning of her book and fully developed a distinct voice for each principle character in LITTLE LOVELY THINGS. She does so by finessing each character, some much more complicated than others, and ascribing the relevant actions and emotions of each personality. LITTLE LOVELY THINGS was not a telling novel, but rather a showing story while experiencing the feelings of the characters as I progressed through LITTLE LOVELY THINGS. Connolly, as other exceptional authors accomplish this through her ability to write descriptive, authentic prose.
“They were almost there, all the way to safety, when…Bam! The trailer blew like a tin can filled with firecrackers.” – LITTLE LOVELY THINGS
Connolly’s background in psychology played well for her by enabling her to apply the rudiments of psychological behavior and emotions of her primary characters. Connolly’s psychology background was an invaluable asset to Connolly, using her knowledge of the psyche of others, both good and bad. I never felt suspicious of that which I should be experiencing as I read from Character to Character which was Connolly’s way of ensuring she did not lose her readers, avoiding getting the multiple characters mixed up and resulting in chaos in her debut novel. Connolly wrote for her readers. While feeling Connelly’s character’s emotions, these emotions invoked feelings within me that were my own, which is what an author wants.
My only hope is that Maureen Joyce Connolly is writing a sequel to LITTLE LOVELY THINGS. After all, the plot is set.
Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark Publishing, Maureen Joyce Connolly and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this novel.