Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Embers (Hyatt Bass)

You know a book has you right where it wants you when you just want to get through your ordinary routine of a day to curl up with it. That is "The Embers" in a nutshell. What is so enthralling about the book, however, is not what happens. The plot takes a backseat to the four main characters. "The Embers" is purely a character study, plain and simple.

I am certainly not giving anything away by stating that by page two, the reader knows that one of the four members of the Ascher family is getting married and one has died. Bass alternately juxtaposes the time periods of 1993 and 2007 to tell the stories of the wedding planning and the death. There is very little surprise in the novel and one is not waiting on the edge of the seat to see what happens. You already know what is around the corner.

The reader grows to care about each member of the family, even through all of their faults (and believe me....there are many). I felt happiness for Emily Ascher as her wedding was approaching, but tremendous sadness for Thomas Ascher as his death was imminent.

It is truly hard to believe that this is the debut novel of Hyatt Bass. The prose is at times beautiful and heartwrenching, the cause of laughter and tears. Spend a few days with the Ascher family, and you may appreciate your own just a little bit more.