I never know what to expect when I send my book out for review but I didn't expect this when I entered IndieReader's Discovery Book Awards: Blue Hydrangeas was rated 4 stars, making it "Indie Reader Approved," which, in their words, means "very much worth the read." And it's in the running for an Indie Reader Discovery Book Award. Winners will be announced at Book Expo America on June 1. I'm hoping for the best.
IndieReader is “the essential consumer guide to self-published books and the people who write them.” Book Review Coordinator Maya Fleischmann, who notified me of their review, wrote "your title was judged by top industry professionals—not as merely a great indie book—but as a great book, period." Oh my, please don't wake me up!
Here's their review:
Marianne Sciucco, Bunky Press, 2013
A sadly realistic tale of a woman’s descent into dementia, with a strong sense of enduring love at its core.
As this novel makes all too clear, Alzheimer’s disease hits families with sneaky cruelty, an emotional nickel-and-diming that picks up pace relentlessly over time. Small omissions (where were those car keys, anyway?) inexorably progress to stovetop burners left untended and cars driven in circles to nowhere. That’s the painful predicament faced by the central characters of this story, whose life dissolves into an anxiety-ridden obstacle course after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
In BLUE HYDRANGEAS, author Marianne Sciucco tackles her painful subject with honesty and deep affection for her key characters. Jack and Sara Harmon’s retirement tranquility explodes when Sara’s worrying lapses snowball into an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and the increasingly desperate Jack struggles to keep his promise that he will never institutionalize his wife. Of course, Sara’s deepening disorientation won’t be denied forever, and the day is fast approaching when she and Jack will have to leave their beloved bed-and-breakfast by the sea, the “Blue Hydrangeas” of the novel’s title. How this crisis reaches its peak is a story that Sciucco, a nurse and former newspaper reporter, invests with sadly realistic detail.
There are some bumps in the storytelling, mostly due to excessive reliance on flashbacks, which tend to stall the plot’s momentum. And some minor characters, such as a loutish grandson who calls poor Sara “crazy”, veer perilously close to becoming cartoon-like. But for the most part it’s engaging and affecting, chiefly due to the couple at its center – Sara, a warm and vital artist lost in a fog of confusion; and steadfast Jack, torn between his own robust good sense and his guilt at the prospect of relinquishing his beloved wife to a care facility. While making it crystal clear that there can be no happy ending here, Sciucco manages to convey the hard-won peace that can follow when a wrenching family struggle is negotiated and resolved with love.
BLUE HYDRANGEAS traces a couple’s struggle with Alzheimer’s in an effective story that doesn’t pull its punches, but remains compassionate and absorbing.
Reviewed by Liz Lynch for IndieReader