Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Road to Enchantment by Kaya McLaren

I can't quite remember why I requested this book (perhaps it's because of the cover), but I found myself enjoying it despite the fact that nothing happens.

The Road to Enchantment starts when Willow receives word that her mother has died, breaks up with her boyfriend, and then finds out she's pregnant (in said order). Having moved back to the home she and her mother lived in, Willow must find a way to pay off her mother's debts and decide what to do with the baby.

The solutions to these problems are actually very simple. Willow sells the wine her mom has been making, and the animals on the farm, and solves the debt problem (more-or-less). The community rallies around her and manages to dissolve her already hesitant decision to abort the baby. The biggest question is whether she will go back to where she was, or stay in New Mexico (and it's pretty obvious to the reader which it is, even if it's not to Willow).

To me, the beauty in this book are the characters and the gradually merging of past and present. First, the characters. The place in New Mexico where Willow grew up borders an Apache reservation and the community is almost all Apache. I really loved how that became part of the story - how the customs and language and people became a part of her life, even if she didn't initially feel like she belonged.

And speaking of characters, both Willow's mom and dad were flawed people. I probably sympathised more with her dad than mom, despite the fact that it would normally be the other way round because I so acutely felt the embarrassment that Willow's mom caused her. Her dad, on the other hand, was largely absent (because her mom moved her to New Mexico) so my impression of him wasn't so bad.

The second: Willow's acceptance of her past. The book alternates between the present day and Willow's memories, and it quickly begins to be clear that how Willow saw and experienced the world back then still affects her. So when she can finally accept her past, her present can start moving into the future.

The only thing that I didn't like about the ending (mild spoilers ahead! Although to be honest there isn't much plot to spoil) is that Willow still ends up with a man in her life. A better man, to be granted, but for a good portion of the book, I thought this would be about the non-romantic type of love and how it can support people. To end with Willow in a relationship seemed to say that in the end, women need a man to be happy.

Apart from that one (fairly large to me) point, I enjoyed this book. Willow's journey isn't dramatic, but she does make a journey and I dare say that she's happier at the end of it.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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