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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

ARC Review: Attachments by Jeff Arch



Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

At a boarding school in Pennsylvania, a deathbed request from the school’s dean brings three former students back to campus, where secrets and betrayals from the past are brought out into the open―secrets that could have a catastrophic effect on the dean’s eighteen-year-old son.

Told in alternating points of view and time frames, Attachments is the story of best friends Stewart (“Goody”) Goodman, Sandy (“Pick”) Piccolo, and Laura Appleby, the girl they both love. The friends meet in 1972 at a boarding school in coal-country Pennsylvania where they encounter Henry Griffin, the school dean, whose genuine fatherly interest and deep human bond with them is so strong that when he has a severe stroke almost twenty years later, he uses what could be his last words ever to call out their names.

Attachments is a puzzle―and the only one who knows how all the pieces fit is in a coma. In the process, longtime secrets are unearthed, revelations come out into the open, and Young Chip Griffin is about to learn something he may or may not be able to handle.
 

Review: 

This book may be set at a boarding school, but it's really about love in all it's stages, from teenage lust, to marriage, to the strains and joys of having children, all the way to the loss of a spouse.  It really encompasses so much.  I haven't had a book make me ugly cry in a long time.  But this book was so moving, that I cried several times.  While there were many heartbreaking moments, overall this was a well written novel that I will remember for a long time.

What I Liked:

Structure:

The story begins with the dean of the boarding school having a stroke and going into a coma.  Before he loses consciousness, he says the names of two former, unforgettable students.  Everyone is confused, but the dean's wife knows her husband wants to see these two former students who were best friends.   

The book moves back and forth between the present, and the past.  We learn how the two young men became friends, their love for the same girl, and how it tears their friendship apart.  

In the present, the dean's teenage son, Chip, grapples with his breakup with his first girlfriend.  He is devastated, unable to understand what went wrong.  With his dad in a coma, he (understandably) wonders why his dad said the names of some former students, and not Chip, or his wife.  Chip tries to unravel the mystery of why the names are important.

Characters:

Pick, Goody, and Laura are such wonderful characters.  As Pick tries to deal with his dad seemingly dumping him at a boarding school, he is paired as a roommate with Goody.  Pick is angry, embarrassed by his crime-boss father, and still mourning the death of his mother.  Goody (what a descriptive name!), is super chill, but also filled with an awareness of social justice issues.  He is the type of student who will organize a student strike to protest the firing of a teacher.  And he will be able to get everyone's support, due to his popularity.  Goody's girlfriend, Laura, adores Goody, but feels an instant connection to Pick that she can't deny.  Ah, teenage love!

I also really liked the dean's wife, Mary, and Pick's mobster father, Carmine. Mary is such a rock during her husband's crisis.  This can't be easy for Mary, as she knows the reason her husband wants Pick, Goody, and Laura to come together, one last time.  But she realizes the time has come for some secrets to be revealed.  She also reaches out to Carmine, Pick's dad.  He is a very complicated character with hidden depths to him I didn't see coming.  What seems like a caricature of  an Italian crime boss, isn't.  Carmine has regrets, loss,and acutely loves his son.  It's heartbreaking because Pick can't understand his dad at all.

Themes:

The story and characters really go through all the stages of love.  Pick, Goody, and Laura (and later Chip) experience the sting of teenage lust and love.  Later in life, Laura and Pick get married (not a spoiler), and must learn to live with the specter of Goody in the background.  Anytime things get tough, both Pick and Laura wonder if Laura should have chosen to be with Goody.  It puts a strain on their marriage.  Mary and Henry (the dean) demonstrate how love mellows and grows as we get older.  As Mary prepares to say goodbye to Henry, she looks back on their marriage and the choices they made.  It's wasn't all roses and champagne in their relationship.  Mary had to make some compromises to be with Henry.  But she comes to a place of peace with her choices.  

Story:

The story was familiar, but also went in directions I wasn't expecting.  Once you know about how attracted Pick is to Laura, you know there will come a time when the teens will act on it.  But so much more happens in the story that will affect their entire lives.  Even though he is mostly in the background of the story, Goody's journey is fascinating, and heartbreaking.  I think I cried over him most of all.


Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Release Date:  May 11th, 2021

Author:  Jeff Arch

Publisher:  SparkPress

Genre:  Literary Fiction

Page Length:  376 Pages

Source: NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  You're going to need an entire box of tissues to deal with all the emotions this book brings forth.  With characters who will move you, this novel will have you thinking about it for a long time to come. Highly recommended.

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