March 11, 2013

I’m Reading: Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole

The Terrace Public Library’s book club picked Practical Jean for this month’s read and I was one of the people who helped choose it. Here’s the blurb:

Jean Vale Horemarsh is an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age. She’s content, mostly, with the life she’s built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends (if you ignore the terrible falling out she had with Cheryl all those years ago), a comfortable marriage with a kind if otherwise unextraordinary man. And then Jean sees her mother go through the final devastating months of cancer, and realizes that her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. That’s when she decides to kill them . . .

I love to be surprised by books – to find something I haven’t read before – and Practical Jean certainly fits the bill. In fact, I’m finding it to be a pretty harrowing read. Not because of the killing aspect – so far no one’s died except Jean’s mother – but because of the truth behind the darkly funny storyline: that we witness casual cruelty all the time, both as children and as adults, and we’re not supposed to “over-react” to it, or to grieve about it, either. And if we can’t “toughen up” or turn a blind eye to disease, suffering and death all around us, we may – like Jean – go a little insane.

Definitely a worthwhile read. I can’t wait to see where this one goes, because at this point – I can’t guess.