When Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940, his hopes are high. Though he leaves behind his new wife and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream-only to be shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack, thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister, and finds an immediate, undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.
Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart Agnes, and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic, and a historical drama that takes readers from World War II through the Civil Rights Movement to the present day, A Life Apart is about a love that creates complicated and unbreakable ties between two families that live worlds apart. L.Y. Marlow brings readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, racial tensions, death, unending guilt, and the profound effects of war.
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: April 22nd 2014 by Broadway Books
I received an advanced readers copy of the book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is April 22, 2014.
After reading the synopsis of this story I was really excited to receive this book as it was right up my alley. A historical fiction with some family drama is the perfect book for me. This book did not disappoint me with this.
Since I do not like to discuss the plot of a story in my reviews I am going to stick to how this book made me feel. The first point is the era in which this story took place. Starting with the events in Pearl Harbour up to the civil rights movement this story covered some very interesting and significant aspects of American history. Although myself no American I am fascinated with both events/movements. This alone was enough to keep me interested in the book.
Then there are the characters of Agnes and Beatrice. I adored both of them. Although both had been dealt some harsh realities, I found both women to be strong in their own way and likeable. I was cheering for both of them throughout the story and hoping that both would choose the path to a better life. For both of them their only flaw was Morris.....which leads me to discuss Morris.
I hated Morris. Despised him. Wished horrible things would happen to him. I'm not sure if this was by design that I disliked him so much or if the reader was supposed to sympathize with his plight. I could not. I found him selfish and cold from almost the first page. His inability to do the right thing was infuriating. If only he did the right thing for one person he could have been somewhat redeemed in my eyes. Instead he wronged everyone including his children. He is portrayed to be completely devoted to his children however giving complete devotion sometimes is not the same as always. I am getting angry writing this review just thinking about him.
I am still on the fence regarding my overall take on this story. On the one hand my utter distaste for Morris slightly ruined the book for me. On the other hand, if a story evokes this much emotion from me that has to mean something? To summarize this was a great story covering some historically significant times and dealing with interracial relations which was fascinating. The female characters were great and likeable with only one common flaw and that was who they chose to love. This was a good read.
My sister is currently reading this story and doing a review as well and I refuse to discuss it until she has finished and written her review. I am curious to know her thoughts and if she was a passionate about Morris as I was. I can't wait to discuss with her!