07 January 2014

book review: tumbleweeds

tumbleweeds by leila meacham

tumbleweeds, like roses, is another sprawling book that spans about thirty years in the lives of cathy, john, and trey who live in the panhandle of texas.  we meet the trio when cathy, age 11, is forced to move in with her estranged grandmother after her parents die.  john and trey, leaders of the pack at school and rising football stars, take her under their wings to help her assimilate into life in their community, which is quite different from the affluent life in california she is coming from.

what follows is a confusing web of love and friendship, secrets and heartbreak, crimes and penance.  the author is skilled at developing the characters' personalities and attachments so securely that you, as the reader, can't help but become totally immersed and engrossed in the drama that is their lives.  i love books like that!  i think there's definitely a place in literature for the author to be selective so the reader has to "read between the lines" to determine the intent but i also love how characters, experiences, and settings, can be richly developed when the author makes that commitment because it helps me to feel like i'm really living this story.  obviously, in a book that's nearly 500 pages the author had plenty of time to do this but the book reads smoothly and quickly.

like her previous novel, roses, i was literally on the edge of my seat as i made my way through this novel, just waiting for the moment when the carefully woven connections would begin to fray because, well, you know that's going to happen.  this begins to occur around the end of high school when the three teens are forced, some perhaps beyond their control, to separate:  trey and john were headed to miami as a promising football stars  bound for the NFL but only trey makes the trip.  john makes last minute plans to attend college elsewhere and cathy stays in texas.  we continue to follow their individual lives and wonder if they will ever again intersect.

if you like strongly developed plots and intense relationships between characters, you will love this book.  but beware... make sure your schedule is completely cleared as you reach the last 150 pages or so because that's when everything truly becomes uprooted and you won't want to put it down until you reach the end (it's worth it, i swear).

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