Today I have a review of Geographies of the Heart, the debut novel by Caitlin Hamilton Summie. I reviewed Caitlin’s To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts, my absolute favorite collection of short stories, here on the blog in 2018. Thank you to Caitlin for the gifted copies of both books.
Whenever I’m asked for a short story collection recommendation, with no hesitation I offer up Caitlin Hamilton Summie’s, To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts, which is without question the best I’ve ever read. Part of its magic is the gentle thread joining the stories together. The other is the way Summie pulls you into each story and the hearts of her characters. The same was true here with her first novel, Geographies of the Heart.
I was telling a friend the other day that quiet stories are my absolute favorite. There’s no outlandish drama, no giant climax to the story; just simple, straight forward, relatable, endearing characters living their day-to-day lives like we all do. I cared immensely about their daily lives. I was invested in their trials and outcomes. All because they felt so real and became a part of my life as they lived theirs.
Something else I love to discover while reading, and it doesn’t always happen, is when I feel the author’s love for her characters. The writing feels so personal I often thought it must be so. That’s how authentic it feels- when you question whether a really great story is fiction. You simply have to meet Sarah and Al to understand. Geographies of the Heart is a multi-layered story of family. I especially enjoyed Sarah’s journey.
Sometimes when I love a book the words flow, and other times I feel like I’m dancing around what to say because all I really want to say is: read this book. It’s brilliant.
I received a gifted copy from the author.
About the Book:
From the author of the award-winning short story collection, To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts.
Sarah Macmillan always puts family first, but she can’t quite stretch her arms wide enough to hold on to everyone as they all age: her career-minded, inattentive younger sister, Glennie; their grandparents, who are slowly fading; or a pregnancy Sarah desperately wanted. But it’s her tumultuous relationship with Glennie that makes Sarah feel the loneliest. She’d always believed that their relationship was foundational, even unbreakable. Though blessed with a happy marriage to Al, whose compassion and humor she admires, Sarah grows increasingly bitter about Glennie’s absences, until one decision forces them all to decide what family means—and who is family. Narrated by the chorus of their three voices, this elegantly told and deeply moving novel examines the pull of tradition, the power of legacies, and the fertile but fragile ground that is family, the first geography to shape our hearts.