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The AI Seal of Excellence for Outstanding Independent Literature has been awarded to The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire by Sandra Hutchison. Read our brand new five-star review of the book below!
A coming-of-age novel set in America in the late 70s, Sandra Hutchison’s The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire centers on the relationship between David, a physics professor in his 30s, and Molly, the teenage girl who used to babysit his daughter. Molly doesn’t babysit for David anymore because his wife and daughter recently perished in a plane crash. He is too overwhelmed by grief to take care of himself, so his estranged sister hires Molly to keep house for him.
Molly has problems of her own. Her parents are divorced. Her father loves her but now has another wife and children, a family where she has a marginal place. She mostly lives with her mother, a notorious and uninhibited artist who commemorates Molly’s first period by constructing the figure of a girl with tampons and, of course, exhibiting it publicly. Molly’s schoolmates call her Tampon Girl.
The physics professor doesn’t seduce or become obsessed with the teenager, nor does she have a girlish crush on him. While David struggles with grief and survivor’s guilt and Molly negotiates the minefield of adolescence in the 70s, they develop a friendship that’s hard to categorize but easy for people in their small town to misinterpret and condemn.
Sandra Hutchison writes beautifully transparent and unpretentious prose. She creates complex characters and a vivid sense of place. Most of all, she tells a compelling story full of sorrow and humor with a benign detachment that leaves room for readers to draw their own conclusions. In other words, she’s a first-rate writer.
Some readers might be offended by Hutchison’s frank depiction of sexual situations and nonjudgmental treatment of behavior that is usually condemned. They may dislike the somewhat open ending. But if you don’t read fiction to find emotional security and have your beliefs validated, if you’re just looking for an excellent book, I strongly recommend The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire.
Recovering both physically and mentally from a plane crash that took the lives of his wife and daughter, college professor David Asken is a mess. His sister hires 16-year-old Molly from across the street to help out with cooking, cleaning and making sure David takes his meds, eats, pays bills, etc. Due to David’s depressed state of mind and Molly’s somewhat neglectful parents, the two form an unconventional and rather controversial relationship. But the development of their relationship is only one of many thought-provoking topics covered in this novel.
The attraction David and Molly feel for one another is made obvious through their actions and inner dialogue. While I knew it would be wrong for a man in his thirties to hook up with a teenager, the prospect became more acceptable to me as their relationship deepened. Aw hell, I’ll just admit it, by the end I was rooting for a romantic HEA for the two of them. But before you judge me or the author for crafting a story filled with such taboo, read the book to find out why the idea of them being together didn’t disgust me.
Kudos to Hutchison for tackling several delicate subjects with candor, realism and punches of humor. Also, her writing is smart and seamless
David survives a plane crash that killed his wife and daughter. Molly, his next door neighbor and his daughter’s babysitter, is hired by his sister to be his housekeeper. Like most survivors, David is struggling with guilt and is even contemplating suicide. Molly, aside from dealing with the grief over the death of David’s daughter Emily, is dealing with issues of her own – one of them being the daughter of a sexually uninhibited artist. The title of this book would probably make you think this is some sexy explicit romance of sorts – that was my first impression until I read the summary – but it’s really not.
The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire is an interesting book about a teenage girl dealing with issues that come when you’re just starting to cross over from being a child to a young woman, and a young man dealing with the tragic loss of his family. Life throws them into each other’s lives and they develop a strange relationship. The book is essentially about how they deal with their circumstances and how one significantly figures in the healing of the other.
The book is well-written and is actually not too difficult to read. It’s not a light read, by all means, and it may be hard to read for some because of the sensitive topics that it touches on, but it doesn’t go over the top or becomes too graphic. It doesn’t sugar-coat either and sometimes you have to read between the lines. The characters are interesting, are not one-sided, and work well together. The story also flows comfortably – it didn’t feel too slow or rushed. By the way, the title is a line taken from a work by Virginia Woolf and is mentioned in the book. The ending doesn’t exactly give straight-up answers and may even leave you with more questions, but I find that it’s just fitting to the story.
Overall, this book is a good read and I think anybody who likes unique stories and likes to keep an open mind would appreciate this book.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to provide a positive review. All views are my own.
Painfully real, very well crafted, beautifully written. I really liked the hero, which was great. Many times the hero is just a jerk.
Yes, I too rooted for an HEA for the unlikely couple. To be honest I didn’t find see much of a taboo in the relationship.
A grisly murder in a sleepy Scottish Borders village opens this debut novel by Janet O’Kane. The body is discovered by a relative newcomer to the village, who has joined the local surgery as a GP.
Doctor Moreland is the central character and the novel, written in the third person, is told from her point of view. However, it is a distant, almost clinical POV, and given that she survives two attempts on her life, is involved in three suspicious deaths, and is just starting a relationship, I would like to have seen some more intimate third person perspective apart from her doubts about her prospective boyfriend.
There is a good range of characters, with many of the supporting ones well portrayed, revealing more about them gradually as the novel progresses. The atmosphere of a small village is well created through the use of dialogue and characterisation.
The plot is not just a whodunit but manages to weave different sub-plots neatly into the main story without being distracting and there are some interesting red herrings and twists. The beginning is paced more slowly to set context, and pauses slightly at times with some minor insignificant detail, but as more is revealed later in the book, the pace picks up considerably, and through a number of red herrings and twists, builds up to an unexpected climax.
Strengths of this book were characterisation, thoughtful plot (and sub-plots), and the way the story played out. A lot of the story was conveyed through dialogue and was well-written and credible. When the immediate action happened it was very good. There were few literal errors.
Recommended to anyone who likes a mystery/crime novel that focuses on thinking, and one that—in its favour—isn’t full of unnecessary gore. It’s a good first novel.