I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

My first book of the year and one I was really looking forward to reading! Lucky me, it was under the tree, but the past couple weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind so I haven’t had much reading time. I made it up for it on Sunday morning as I sat with a cup of tea and finished this one.

I loved the last Wally Lamb book that I read, We Are Water, so much. I also loved the two I read before that over the years. I had really high hopes for I’ll Take You There and while I’m not certain it completely delivered on my expectations (that in retrospect, were unfairly high), I did enjoy it and it delivered some good thinking for me too, which I like in a novel.

The story is about Felix, a film professor, who hosts a movie club. In setting up for the club one evening, he is visited by the ghost of Lois Weber, an actress and director from the silent film era. She has brought him films of his life and it’s through these films, where he actually goes back to being himself at each age and he (and the reader), get to appreciate the women who have had an impact on his life. His two older sisters, his now grown daughter and other women who ultimately helped shape him years ago and continue to now. The films are at pivotal moments of his life and while some of them are painful for him to relive, we get to see Felix’s story and he gets to learn more and understand more about those moments.

The book has some magic in it, as you might be able to imagine with Lois and other ghosts coming to educate Felix. It’s a great story, leveraging the idea of films to tell it. It also pays homage to women and feminism and the feminist movement, both reflecting back at the start of it and the movement as it is today (thanks to the insertion of a blog post by Felix’s daughter beginning on page 240).

Felix’s reflection throughout the story made me think and reflect (something I’ve been doing a fair bit of lately) about life and where we are today. The things going on in the world – fake news, terrorism, and so many continuing to fight for rights that should be theirs – it’s 2017 after all – and what we can do to shape it. Or can we? The following passage got me thinking about that:

ill-take-you-there-passage

I’m torn about whether I agree with the idea today but it’s one that I’m going to continue to debate about in my head. That’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Wally Lamb – not necessarily the debate in my head – but that his stories are wonderful and thought provoking – to me at least.

I made only two resolutions for New Year’s – one of them is to read more so I can get more people reading. I plan to keep it!

Happy Reading,

K

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