Days of Awe Review
Days of Awe is about Isabel Moore, a teacher, mother, and wife. The novel begins with the death of her best friend and fellow teacher, Josie. The novel vacillates between the past and the present. When Iz, as her friends call her, was a child, and her dissolving marriage.
The novel explores how Iz juggles so many life changes at once, how her past shaped her present, and most of all how to cope with grief as she feels like she may be responsible for Josie’s death. Iz sees how easy it is to second guess everything and go back years and trace events that lead to Josie’s death.
As a reader, I was engrossed in the story. I was emotionally invested in the characters, who were well developed. My heart broke when Iz’s heart broke. I got mad at the other teachers when Iz got mad at the other teachers. I was rooting for her. However, the ending left me disappointed.
There was no ending. Not really. Endings to novels definitely don’t need to be neat and clean. I don’t need them wrapped up in a box with a bow. However, when I think about ambiguous endings that are done correctly – an ending where I don’t know what happens to the characters, really – I still feel satisfied. Satisfying ambiguous endings are satisfying because the main character or characters have not only learned something, but they’ve applied it to their life. Even if they learn not to care about what other people think about them, and they exhibit a glimmer of hope in their eyes or they kick their crappy boyfriend to the curb, but now they have to move back home with their batty family. I don’t learn how they rebuild their lives, but I know that they’ve come out better people and something good is going to come out of the bad situations in the the novel.
Days of Awe leaves the reader hanging. I don’t know if Iz’s empowerment is implied, which if it is, it isn’t done well, but honestly when I finished the novel, I wanted to hand it back to the editor and the author with a big fat F in red at the top and write “try again.” Or, maybe to borrow a phrase from my least favorite professor on a literary criticism test that I failed as a baby sophomore, who didn’t belong in the class, I could write at the top “You fundamentally misunderstand the concept.” Ms. Fox and her editors need to try again because they fundamentally misunderstand how to end a story.
It’s really a shame because I couldn’t put down the novel. When I got to the last page, I was stunned that it was the ending.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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