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Book Review — The Hardest Thing in This World by Nicole Eva Fraser

Posted by mcm0704 on June 15, 2014 |

The Hardest Thing in This World
Nicole Eva Fraser
Second Wind Publishing 
ISBN: 978-1938101595 (paperback)
ASIN: B00G5LFLAC  (for Kindle)
Publication date: October 11, 2013
248 pages

BOOK BLURB: Sexy, smart-mouthed Melody Sawyer is an underachiever, a home health care nurse with good intentions and a chip on her shoulder. Her troubled daughter Renee recently dropped dead at age 24, but Renee’s ghost keeps popping in on the family. And Melody has no clue about her married daughter, Kayla—who since age 16 has been deep in a clandestine affair with pro baseball player Baron Lee Presley.  The novel follows the Sawyer women’s offbeat, darkly funny, and sometimes tragic journey as they try to conquer the hardest thing in this world.

Fraser certainly knows how to grab a reader’s interest in the opening of a story. We meet Melody Sawyer after the funeral of her daughter, Renee, when Melody has stolen the urn with Renee’s ashes, eaten some of the ashes, then poured the rest down the drain. I don’t know about you, but I sure wanted to know what motivated Melody’s bizarre actions.

And that’s what the rest of this book is about. We go back in time and meet Melody as a young woman. Then we meet Winch, her husband, and then the rest of her family that includes her parents, his parents, his brother, Jamie, and her brother Michael. How all of their lives and personalities intertwine and impact each other is the meat of the story, as they deal with the joys and tragedies that touch any family.

What happens to the characters in this book could happen to anyone, and that is one of the most engaging elements. None of us are above the petty jealousies, the resentments, the human frailty, the fears and the pains that these people experience. And there are things that have happened to our families that we would rather not talk about. Fraser does that for us with this interesting study of character and human behavior.

While I am not normally a fan of paranormal, I couldn’t help but like Renee and Jamie as ghosts, and I especially liked Renee’s description of the other world. “Renee doesn’t know how to explain it. In the ghost world, time is a strand. It’s fluid like a river and elastic like a rubber band.”

This is a book best read in one or two or three long reading sessions as opposed to reading a chapter or two at a time. It is not a linear story, so one must stay with it for several chapters to follow the back and forth in time. If you can do that, you will be pulled along on a journey that is not always pleasant, but it always a good read. Fraser balances the good and the bad quite well, and offers touches of humor just at the right time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicole Eva Fraser received her MFA in creative writing from the NEOMFA consortium in northeast Ohio and graduated summa cum laude from Baldwin-Wallace College with a double major in English and communications. She is an adult-literacy advocate in Cleveland, Tanzania and Malawi. She runs 10ks (slowly), used to speak French, and often can be found putting her foot in her mouth. You can find Nicole on Pinterest and Goodreads

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2 Comments

  • Hi Maryann,
    This one sure looks intriguing! I’m already curious why Renee keeps coming back. Obviously she has some unfinished business or suspicious circumstances surrounding her death.

    Looks like a good summer read!
    Anne

  • Thanks for stopping by, Anne. Yes, Renee does have a reason for coming back, but it is more about the family relationships and dynamics than the circumstances of her death. The story was a really interesting look at a dysfunctional family and how the various members cope with the things life throws at you.

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