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Saturday, May 16, 2015

What Remains by Helene Dunbar (Review)

About the Book:
WHAT REMAINS by Helene Dunbar Release Date: May 8, 2015 Publisher: Flux Books Pages: 288
In less than a second... ... two of the things Cal Ryan cares most about--a promising baseball career and Lizzie, one of his best friends--are gone forever. In the hours that follow... ...Cal's damaged heart is replaced. But his life will never be the same. Everyone expects him to pick up the pieces and move on. But Lizzie is gone, and all that remains for Cal is an overwhelming sense that her death was his fault. And a voice in his head that just...won't...stop. Cal thought he and his friends could overcome any obstacle. But grief might be the one exception. And that might take a lifetime to accept...
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  She looks at me, vaguely curious, but obviously unsure what I'm getting at.  "Everything changes," I whisper into her hair, which smells a little like paint thinner.  "It wont always be this hard."
And I know, from sitting behind her at an assembly last year, that her hair smells like vanilla cookies.  That smell doesn't make me hungry, though; it makes me feel a lot of other things that make it difficult for me to eat cookies in public.
How I'm feeling?  Is this douchebag serious?  How the hell does he expect me to be feeling?

  Helen Dunbar captured me last year with her stunning novel These Gentle Wounds.  What Remains was no less of a novel and captured my heart in a completely different way.  This author captures moments and emotions in a way that has now made her books a must have for me.  What captures me the most is exactly how well written these novels are, and how much emotion is poured between the pages.  What Remains is a heart wrenching story that shows us what loss can do, and how our minds some times do the unexpected in order to cope.

  To be honest the first turn in plot comes early on in this novel, but I didn't really see it coming.  In hind site I know that I should have but it was so drastic, so fast.  There was a brief moment that I hoped it was some sort of weird dream, but it just kept going.  Not only did it keep going but it had so many unique points that the plot never really dragged.  This was only made better by the fact that there were so many little details that made the bigger things pull you in further.  The little things also never become overwhelming, they are just enough to give you a better picture and make the picture more vivid.  Having said that, there was not a moment that I actually wanted to put this book down.  I stayed awake to read it and don't regret my lack of sleep for one moment.

  Cal was an interesting character.  He was a baseball player and a damn good one, and yet he didn't care to be a part of the popular crowd.  Cal was happy with having his two best friends and living life as it has always been.  Except nothing stays the same, and Cals world is rocked when everything that he thought was set changes.  Change is not Cal's strong suit to start with but loosing two of the most important things to him does something to him.  Dunbar did an amazing job portraying both feelings and reactions, making Cal a character that was easy to relate to and someone that you can truly feel for him.  He also grows so much from the start, realizing that it's okay not to have control over everything and that sometimes the chances we take later are better than the options that we had to start.

  What Remains was more about friendship and moving on, than it was about romance and finding your other half.  Though Cal had liked Ally before all of the change started, but was just too afraid to take a chance and speak to her.  What I didn't realize is just how significant his not saying anything was and just how much can change by one little path changing.  There was so many things that came up because of questions raised when Ally came into the picture.  There was also the fact that Ally carried her own baggage, had her own burden to carry.  I picture these two as the ones that can complete each other, be a support for where the gaps are.

  What Remains pulled at my heart in so many ways and there is no way to truly express all of the things that I felt.  Helen Dunbar is spectacular and created something unique, while still keeping it interesting and realistic.  I loved the characters right from the start and have no doubt that I will go back to this book just to revisit everyone.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that is a fan of comtemporary reads, or someone that is looking for something that is both light and heavy at the same time.

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About the Author:

Helene Dunbar usually writes features about fiddles and accordions for an Irish Music Magazine, but she’s also been known to write about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She’s amazed that she has a day job that pays her to spend time on Facebook and Twitter, and that, on a good day, gives her time to let the voices in her head out into the world to tell a story.   If she had to put money on it, she’d bet that if music didn’t exist, she wouldn’t be able to write.  She’s lived in two countries, six states, and is currently holed up in Nashville with her husband, daughter, two cats, and the world’s friendliest golden retriever.
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