By: Roxana Robinson
Published Year: 2008
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): When Julia Lambert, an art professor, settles into her idyllic Maine house for the summer, she plans to spend the time tending her fragile relationships with her father, a repressive neurosurgeon, and her gentle mother, who is descending into Alzheimer's. But a shattering revelation intrudes: Julia's son Jack has spiraled into heroin addiction.
In an attempt to save him, Julia marshals help from her looseknit clan: elderly parents; remarried ex-husband; removed sister; and combative eldest son. Ultimately, heroin courses through the characters' lives with an impersonal and devastating energy, sweeping the family into a world in which deceit, crime, and fear are part of daily life.
What I thought
Cost follows a dysfunctional family’s struggle with addiction. The story is mostly told from the point of view of Julia, who is the mother of Jack who is the heroin addict. While that is the largest family issue, Katharine, the grandmother is fighting the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, Harriet and Julia are dealing with long seeded sister issues, and Edward, the grandfather is dealing with old age and decisions he made when he was young.
The story of Jack’s heroin addiction and how it effects his family was fascinating. I’ve never read a story that dealt so realistically with addiction. The story itself jumps from perspective to perspective, so the reader gets a chance to see how Jack’s actions effect each and every person in his family. The majority of the perspectives alternates between Jack, Edward, and Julia.
While I did overall enjoy the story, I had some issues with the writing. I felt like this book could’ve been half the length because so much of it was unnecessary to the story. For example, Harriet, Julia’s sister, has a few chapters. While the first one is interesting because it provides insight into her relationship with Julia and the rest of her family, I completely skipped some of the other parts from her perspective. They just talked about her everyday life and how it is working with animals as a veterinarian. This in no way shape or form influences the rest of the story. Those chapters really irritated me. Just way too much excess that I skipped through. I also felt this way with the story of Edward and Katharine. I enjoyed learning about Edward’s life and career, but it was a totally different story. It had nothing to do with Jack and his addicition (with the exception of explaining the family dynamics with him and his daughter), and there was so much of it. I bet there could have been a second book just focused on Edward’s and Katharine. Especially since their story didn’t even feel conclusive in this book.
Another writing issue that I had was the length of descriptions. There were pages upon pages of descriptions that, again, had no real point in moving the story forward. Again, I skipped over these parts. The final writing issue I had was that there were certain phrases that were used over, and over, and over again. This repetition was irritating and often pulled me out of the story.
Overall, I think that the way this book deals with heroin addiction and how it impacts the family members of the addict is interesting and that in and of itself makes it worth reading. The writing (or maybe the editing?) is average at times and I will not be checking out more books from Robinson in the future.
What Book Club Thought
Book Club did NOT like this book. I guess the one positive is that those types of books always provide good discussion? I was actually the one who had the least amount of dislike towards the book. Two of the members didn't even finish because they didn't like it. A lot of the complaints were similar to what I listed above. The writing was a big issue for all of us. I think the general consensus was that we wanted this story to be so much more and it was just a lot of extra that didn't contribute to the core of the story. Basically, this book would not be recommended by our book club. The summary made us feel like it had such good intentions but it really missed the mark.
Next Book Club Book
All the Missing Girls By: Megan Miranda
By: Roxana Robinson