Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Maine by J Courtney Sullivan

Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Ebook

Maine chronicles the paths of three generations of woman, living with family secrets and uncertain futures. Maine, is the location of the Kelleher family beach house where many memories have been made both good and bad. Four generations later and Alice, the family matriarch doesn’t understand why her family is so distant. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the characters, and we see the Kelleher family through each of their eyes. As we get to know Alice, we learn that she has many grudges against her own children; her grandchildren are seen as an extension of their parents. Alice never wanted to become a mother, never felt that she was right for the role, after the death of her sister, she was married six months later to a man she grew to love. The guilt and loss of her sister remains with her to this day, a secret she wishes to keep. She raised her children as best she could, never keeping many criticisms to herself. If you were her family member, and you gained 5 pounds…you heard about it. Divorce should not be an option, even if your husband cheated on you. Kathleen is one of her children and not Alice’s favorite by any means. When Kathleen’s father fell sick, he confided in Kathleen, leaving Alice bitter. Daniel passed away ten years ago, but Kathleen and Alice have never been able to repair their relationship. Kathleen is now in California, running a successful business with the money her father left her while her family mock her from afar. Maggie is Kathleen’s daughter- currently single, and pregnant. Maggie reluctantly goes to Maine to clear her head and figure out where she needs to go from here, the downside is seeing her grandmother but she is sure she can manage. Ann Marie is the daughter-in-law, the do-gooder, and the perfect mother and wife. She tends to Alice’s needs and remains quietly frustrated that she seems to be the only one taking care of her. As much as she is frustrated she would never imagine confronting anyone. Ann Marie has many family secrets of her own, and her perfect little family isn’t as perfect as she makes them out to be. Family dysfunction at its best.

I really loved Maine, I love seeing each character’s perspective. Alice seemed like a very raw character, and at times I detested her. She seemed selfish and cruel but at the same time she tries to justify her actions. You want to hate her and feel bad for her at the same time. Maggie was by far my favorite character, and I was cheering for her throughout the novel. Kathleen is a strong independent character while Ann Marie may seem like a push-over it’s interesting to read her thoughts. I loved the colorful characters, from the war-torn years to the present the Kelleher family is unique and real. While the family briefly comes together, the impact is enormous. Highly recommended, certainly not just a beach read…pick this one up and you won’t want to put it down.


  1. I'm glad to see this is so good - I'll be reading it for my book club next month.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting story on women in one family -unmotherly Alice and her brood of women must make for quite a fascinating experince. Writing this one down for TBR list.

  3. I have been hankering for this book. By looking at the cover you would think it was a light beach read but after reading your review I think it is a meatier read. I'll have to pick it up. Great review!

  4. Everyone seems to LOVE this title. I need to put it on my wishlist! Thanks for the great review!