Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Review: Aberrations by Penelope Przekop

Aberrations is an extraordinary debut novel for Penelope Przekop. This is not just a coming of age story, it is truly an awakening.

Angel Duet is a 21-year-old narcoleptic living in Louisiana during the 1980’s. Her mother died when she was born, and all that Angel has of her mother are stories told to her by her father, and a series of cloud photographs taken by her mother.

When her father’s new girlfriend moves in, the pictures come off the wall and Angel finds her familiar life turned upside down. She feels the loss of the pictures as another person would feel a parent’s death. Throughout the story we see her searching for the one thing she’s never felt, but needs so acutely – a mother’s love. This search will lead her down a dark path of drugs and sexual experimentation, before ultimately leading her to demand real answers from her father.

Aberrations is an intriguing look into the secrets people keep and their motivations for keeping them. Every character has something that they want to hide from others: a medical condition, their sexuality, an extra-marital affair. As the story progresses, we glimpse each character’s secret. Some secrets, once revealed, are liberating for the characters. Others are absolutely devastating. The secrets that Angel’s father has kept from her concerning her mother will irrevocably change her life.

Przekop has crafted some truly fascinating characters in this novel. I found myself drawn to each character, but I was most drawn to Angel. As a person living with a chronic illness, I easily identified with Angel’s struggle with narcolepsy and her desire to not allow the illness to define her.

Powerful and stirring, Aberrations is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Don’t miss this one!

Rating: 9/10

Buy Aberrations:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Visit Penelope Przekop's official site to read a sample chapter from the book.

24 comments:

  1. Well darn it! I was hoping this book maybe wasn't so good. Now it has to stay near the top of the teetering stack 'o books I call my TBR pile.

    Thanks for the great review!

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  2. Bookfool: I have to admit, when my TBR pile gets top-heavy, I too hope for mediocrity for some of the books making up that stack.

    Aberrations is wonderful though -- and a pretty fast read, I finished it in about a day. The hardest part was writing the review. I didn't feel that I could do the book justice! It's that good.

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  3. I feel like I "missed the boat" on this one ... I didn't think it would appeal to me, but I've read nothing but very positive reviews about it. Lesson learned, I'll keep open to new ideas.

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  4. SheIsTooFondofBooks: I hate when that happens to me! Unless it's something I'm absolutely sure I'm going to hate it, I'll usually give a book a shot but there are a few that I missed the boat on. Especially for the Early Reviewers, I'm usually pretty choosy when the new batches come out. I don't think I even requested The Lace Reader and now it's very high on my wish list. I'm still kicking myself for that.

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  5. Ruth, Thank you for such a wonderful review of Aberrations. I'm so happy that were impressed with it. Any insight into why many of the bloggers are saying that they are (pleasantly) surprised by it, it's not what they expected, etc.? I'm wondering if it's something that I can at least address on my Web site. Comments on this from others are also welcome also. Thanks! Penelope

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  6. Penelope, thanks so much for visiting my blog! I'm hoping to make it to your visit to the Doylestown Bookshop next month.

    I think a lot of readers are surprised by Aberrations because it's such a deep book. It's a very multi-layered story. My feeling is that most people are expecting a book about Angel's struggle with her illness, which Aberrations certainly is, but it's also so much more than that. The characters are so wonderfully rendered that readers will connect with all of them on some level, and may connect with one or more characters in a very meaningful way. Everyone in the story has their own "aberration" and that makes the characters very easy to relate to. The characters are all the more real because of their flaws, and I think just about every reader can see a bit of themselves in at least one of them.

    Another factor, I think, is when you read the first chapter, you really have no clue what's going to happen by the last chapter. You establish the fact that Angel's father is less than truthful immediately, but the extent of that isn't apparent until later in the novel. I dislike books that I can easily categorize -- if I can read 30 pages and say, "Oh, this is going to be just like [insert book title here] with a twist", the author hasn't done their job. You've truly made Aberrations your own. It's an incredibly unique story that has been masterfully told and it's going to mean a different thing to just about every person who reads it.

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  7. Thanks Ruth,

    Reading this literally made me cry. Thank you so much for helping spread the word about Aberrations and for being a fan of the book. If you're on Facebook, I'd love for you to join my new Fan Page. Let's keep in touch. I added your blog link to the newsletter I just distributed so maybe you'll get some new visitors. :-)

    Have you read my blog, Aberration Nation? You might like it, too. you can get to it via my site. If you stop by, please let me know what you think. For now, I'm writing on the various themes of the novel. I've also got some of my radio interviews up now on the site.

    Best - Penelope

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  8. Penelope, I'm truly honored to help you promote this book. I've added Aberration Nation to my Bloglines subscription as well as my blogroll that's visible here at Bookish Ruth. Thanks so much for including me in your newsletter!

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  9. Wow, sounds like an intense novel. I definitely want to read this, and it's a neat idea...the fact that everyone has a secret. You just never know what people are going through. I always try and remember that!

    -Lauren

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  10. Great review! I wanted to read this book after just reading the blurb, but now I really want to read it. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Rebekah

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  11. Ruth, this is a great review! I thought I had commented before but I see upon entering your giveaway that I hadn't. I've had my eye on this book for a while and would love to read it. It sounds like an intense, emotional read. I love those kinds of books.

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  12. Sounds like a very good book. I think it would ba avery interesting read.

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  13. I enjoyed your review.I am intrigued by a story in which the main character has a medical condition or limitation of some sort to deal with. I've never read a novel where the main character has narcolepsy and your review has made me want to read this book.

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  14. I enjoyed your review.I am intrigued by a story in which the main character has a medical condition or limitation of some sort to deal with. I've never read a novel where the main character has narcolepsy and your review has made me want to read this book.

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  15. I'm sorry, I really did click the button only once, I don't kknow what happened.

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  16. I have heard such good things about this book and your review makes me want to read it so much more!

    Great review!

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  17. i only skimmed the review as i plan to read this book soon and do not want to have any preconceptions :)

    i cant wait to compare notes after i am done.

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  18. Great review! I've heard a lot of great things about this book. I'm definitely moving it up on my TBR list!

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  19. Great! If I can't win one (and I'm crossing my finger for sure!) then I'll be sure to get my hands on a copy somehow.

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  20. Holy moley, this sounds good! Your review is wonderful. I feel for her already and I haven't even opened up the book. She seems so lost and disconnected and I'm rooting for her!

    doot65{at}comcast[dot]net
    Elizabeth

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  21. I'm intrigued by your review of this book. One thing I've learned about myself since I started reviewing books for my blog is that characters end up being the most important part of a story for me. If a story doesn't have interesting, well-crafted characters, I'm not going to love it, no matter how good the plot is. I'm looking forward to a chance to read this book!

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  22. This sounds so interesting. I can't wait to read it to find out what all of the secrets are.

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  23. Just wanted to let you know that I mentioned your review in my review of this book. (Click here to see my review.) Unfortunately, I didn't like the book as much as everyone else seems to have!

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