Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Alaska

Sue Saliba
Published in Australia
Mia left her home in Australia, along with her alcoholic mother, to live with her older sister for a while in Alaska. But the close bond that Mia and Em used to have isn't quite what it used to be. Em has a child now, and a hard-headed, always-has-to-be-right husband. She found a way to escape from the dysfunction of their childhood home and now Mia, who finds herself attracted to Ethan, the man she meets in the forest, hopes to find her own escape in Alaska.

The writing of this book is so lyrical. The words seem like whispers and while it's beautiful, this sort of wispy, barely-there writing puts the book at a distinct disadvantage. At less than 200 pages, the book is already incredibly slim and it took me a good portion of the book to piece the plot and characters together. Mia, Em, and Ethan are more like shadows than realistic, fully imagined characters. Their personalities, desires, and histories are often only hinted at which makes it difficult to form opinions about them. Ethan, Mia's sort-of boyfriend often seems to be hiding something, however his and Mia's apparent connection makes for a confusing, complicated, half-there picture. There are bits and pieces of the overall relationship and story, but it never quite comes together fully.

Environmentalism and love for the earth was a big part of this book, with a "save the forests" plot being the main focus, but like the rest of the novel this plot wasn't developed enough to have much of an impact. The ideas and writing are wonderful, but it's not quite enough. Mia's journey in Alaska does eventually come to a head and the last third of the novel goes a long way toward putting the scattered pieces together. Unfortunately the ending leaves many subplots hanging, unfinished. Her relationships with both older sister Em and maybe-boyfriend Ethan are unresolved. However, the pretty, flowy writing made this a book I enjoyed despite the confusion and problems I found with it. If any of Sue Saliba's books are ever published in the US (this is an Australian novel), I'll definitely be checking them out.


  1. I was keen to read this but the fact that subplots are left hanging kinda puts me off. I hate it when books do that. On the other hand, I do enjoy lyrical prose.

    1. Well, this is definitely a book I'm glad I read, but there were times when I sort of had to slog through it, and the ending definitely isn't the best, but the writing is just SO PRETTY that it makes up for s lot.