Author: Marian Palaia
Title: The Given World
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 304
What’s It About?
Riley is a young girl living in rural Montana. As she enters her teenage years, her older brother–whom she cherishes dearly–goes off to the war in Vietnam. Upon receiving notification that he had died in combat, her life spirals out of control. Her parents grow cold and distant, and Riley gets into drugs to numb the pain.
When she’s seventeen, Riley becomes pregnant with the child of a man who goes off to the war in Vietnam and–like her brother–never returns. Unable to bear the loss, Riley leaves the baby with her parents and leaves Montana. Traveling as far west as she can go, she winds up settling in San Francisco.
Over the course of her adult life, Riley wonders around in search of herself and her place in the world. In her travels, she meets new friends and experiences new things. All along, the question looms heavily in her mind–will she have the courage to return home? Will she go back to Montana and face what she’s left behind?
Should You Read It?
The story is told in alternating first and third person perspective, with the former revealing Riley’s feelings about her circumstances and the latter shedding light on how Riley’s life fits in with the lives of those around her. The novel is largely character-driven, rather than plot-driven. Great emphasis is placed on how inescapable circumstances rule the lives of Riley and the cast of characters she encounters throughout her life. With the major theme built around the struggle to overcome tragedy and find meaning, the tone is one of aimless searching, grasping, and hoping. If all of this sounds interesting to you, I would give it a shot.
Links and References
Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, SF Gate, Meanderings and Musings
Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com
Other Books By Marian Palaia: The Given World is Marian Palaia’s debut novel.