I received this novel for as a Christmas gift with a recommendation to read it for the family issues. Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan (Penguin Group, 2007) was a fast and furious story filled with family agonies and twists and turns to make your heart lurch. Kiernan is a new author to watch with her stories in that will grab your heart. You know you have a good novel when you can’t put it down and the clock is ticking past midnight, past 1, past 2! (It’s an obsession, I know, but one can never read too much, really!)

So, where to start with this novel? First, the story is both believable and unbelievable. The author gives the extreme sides of family relationships and troubled marriages. She mixes in a perfectionist musician, mother of 2, cheating husband, highfalutin mother, spicy pasts, a sister for a genius, health scares, and a beautiful landscape as the novel is set between Florida and Georgia on the coasts. And, this novel also is written in the style of those great southern literary tales. Creatively written, with stylistic flourishes, the novel retained interest through alternating chapters of the two main characters, sisters who have not spoken in years, with dark secrets retained between them, yearning to be resolved and out in the open. The moral of this story is to be honest, from the beginning, before matters take a turn for the worst. It’s always best to be forthright and don’t hide, bury, or repress painful memories. It only gets worse until it gets better, if it gets better….. (okay, now you really want to read this book, don’t you?) The end also begs for a sequel – will the author do it? Maybe even a prequel to further explore the roots of these troubled and complex lives. It all starts somewhere, why not check out the roots, the soil, the nutrients, or lack of?

Literally, at 1 am, my heart is pounding and I can’t stop reading. Only 100 pages to go and I think I can finish in an hour…. well, my sane self says “put the book down and just walk away….” or rather “go to sleep!” It’s funny, I don’t read that many novels these days, but when I do, I completely fall into obsessive-compulsive behavior and let myself be taken away by the story. That’s also the sign of a really good storyteller, the ability to draw the readers in with a strong pull, like ocean currents and the movements of the planet. With my obsessive-compulsiveness, in check, I do put the book down and get to sleep with that nice taste of anticipation that I’ll be able to finish the book the next day.

Check out the author’s website at www.kristykiernan.com and read about her new novel, Matters of Faith. Here’s a fitting excerpt of Catching Genius that will also give you a flavor of the novel.

I have 2 books to review professionally in the next two weeks and will write here again soon. Until then,  Happy Reading!

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Have you recently read a really great novel and couldn’t put it down even though you had other tasks and chores to do? Tell me about it – I want to nurture my little obsessive-compulsive fiction demon inside!

Thanks for the book, Mom! 🙂

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