Fifteen year old Alice dreams of her first kiss, has sleepovers, auditions for Our Town and tries to pass high school biology. It's 1975 and at first look, her life would seem to be normal and unexceptional. But in the world that Leslie Pietrzyk paints, every moment she chronicles is revealed through the kaleidoscope of loss, strained by the fact that Alice's mother, without warning, note or apology, deliberately parks her car on the railroad tracks in the path of an oncoming train.
This is a wonderful story of a 15 year old girl who loses her mother, and spends a year questioning why, all the while hearing her mother's voice speaking to her, coaching her, teaching her, and telling her things that she did not know when her mother was alive.
Alice Martin is a typical teenager...hanging out with friends, having crushes on boys, and cherishes the times that she spends with her mom. Her mother, however, occasionally falls into deep depressions, and it was during one of these spells, that she kills herself. Alice, her 17 year old brother Will, and her Aunt Aggy struggle to find the answers why Annette Martin decided to do what she did.
Alice knows that nothing will ever be the same again, and wrestles with the fact that her mom is gone forever, and there are a lot of unanswered questions. When she begins hearing her dead mother's voice in her thoughts, she is not even afraid. Her mother's voice stays with her for a year and a day, answering many of Alice's questions.
This is moving coming-of-age story with a beautiful ending.
I enjoyed this novel and found myself reading fast, to see what would happen with Alice. A great story following the highs and lows of a young woman struggling to accept her mother's suicide and the aftermath of this event. It takes place during her 16th year, as she is on the brink of 16.
In many ways, Alice is a typical teenager and we see her journey through grief and the discovery that people are more than what they appear. Pietrzyk develops her characters in many ways and as you journey with Alice, those layers come off and we discover, as Alice does, all the complexities that make up life.
Pietrzyk is a thoughtful author and I think you will enjoy the book and identify deeply with Alice and her family, especially if you grew up in rural America during the 1970s.