Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: In Leah's Wake

Life got in the way and I almost didn't have the opportunity to read this book, much less finish it and write a review. But I set aside two days to focus on it, and I'm glad I did. It was worth those two days. It was worth much more than that. In Leah's Wake is beautifully written, haunting, fascinating, and a book that has a lot to say, a lot to teach you, without getting preachy. Since we're all about editing around here, I wanted to talk about a few things that really stood out for me.

Terry Guilano Long did two things exceptionally well with this novel. First, deep POV. Sometimes deep POV is a hard concept to keep in mind when writing, but she pulled it off perfectly. She switched between several POVs within the family, and even one cop who is in the position to view the family. Whenever she switches, it's with purpose. The reader learns something new about the characters, or the world. We may learn new information about a past event or understand how one event greatly impacted the lives of the family in startlingly different ways, for example. We learn there is a thread of memories, of intimacy and love, good times and bad, binding this family together, and sometimes the greatest tragedy is that they don't see that. But we can.

She also uses POV well for showing, rather than telling. I know all about these characters, who they are, what motivates them, and why they fucked up, but Long never once fell into the trap of telling me these details. She revealed them slowly, allowing the reader to become acquainted with them the way you would any new person in your life.

Secondly, her use of dialogue is amazing. The characters talk like they should and sound like who they are. She expertly used indirect dialogue to keep the flow of long and emotional conversations going. It's not a difficult technique, but I see so few people even attempt it these days. The fact that she did, and did it so well, is amazing to me.

A good book should have plenty to teach you about life. A very good book will have plenty to teach you about writing. This is one of those rare books that manages to do both. I can't say it's completely perfect. Sometimes it felt a little too much like an ISSUE BOOK especially when it comes to the younger sister Justine (the most sympathetic character by far by the way). There were a few editing errors throughout that added up to enough that I noticed, but not enough to annoy me. Which was unfortunate, because it was the only indication that this is a self-published book. ETA: I learned the current re-issue of the novel has the typos/spelling errors corrected.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Rest assured that while I focused on elements of the craft, I found the story itself to be strong and engaging and the characters jumped off the page.

Tour Notes:

Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official In Leah’s Wake blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

The next word for the book give-away is OFFICE?. Learn more about the give-away and enter to win 1 of 3 copies on the official In Leah’s Wake blog tour page. The other 2 copies are being given-away courtesy of the GoodReads author program, go here to enter. And don’t forget to stop by the Q&A with Terri Giuliano Long Group to discuss In Leah’s Wake (including questions from the official book club guide), the author, her writing process, and advice.

Book Trailer for In Leah’s Wake:


  1. Wow - Haley! Thank you so very much! I am deeply touched your review. I really appreciate that you took the time to read my book - and I'm grateful to you for sharing and recommending my work.

    Warmest wishes,


  2. Terri,

    Thank you for writing such a great book! I'm very happy I had the opportunity to read it and I hope you have great success. Well, this is your debut novel, so I'm sure you *will* have great success.


  3. Thank you so much, Haley! That means a lot, especially coming from you!

    My best,