Title: Leaving the World
Author: Douglas Kennedy
Publisher: Atria Paperback (2010)
Book Source: Free copy from publisher
On the night of her thirteenth birthday, Jane Howard made a vow to her warring parents: she would never get married, and she would never have children.
But life, as Jane comes to discover, is a profoundly random business. Many years and many lives later, she is a professor in Boston, in love with a brilliant, erratic man named Theo. And then Jane becomes pregnant. Motherhood turns out to be a great welcome surprise—but when a devastating turn of events tears her existence apart she has no choice but to flee all she knows and leave the world.
Just when she has renounced life itself, the disappearance of a young girl pulls her back from the edge and into an obsessive search for some sort of personal redemption. Convinced that she knows more about the case than the police do, she is forced to make a decision—stay hidden or bring to light a shattering truth.
Leaving the World is a riveting portrait of a brilliant woman that reflects the way we live now, of the many routes we follow in the course of a single life, and of the arbitrary nature of destiny. A critically acclaimed international bestseller, it is also a compulsive read and one that speaks volumes about the dilemmas we face in trying to navigate our way through all that fate throws in our path.
Leaving the World was an entertaining book that kept me interested throughout. There was certainly a lot going on plot wise. (A little too much to be easily believable actually.) It is told in the first person and the narration flows well. Jane, the protagonist, is a character who is easy to warm to because of her flaws and complications. There are a lot of quirky supporting characters that help to add interest also. The book is divided into sections that correspond to major changes in Jane's life. Some segments seemed to work better than others. I didn't really enjoy the later part where Jane gets caught up in the case of a missing teenage girl. It just didn't seem to fit into the way I would expect Jane to behave.
Douglas Kennedy began Leaving the World with Jane's thirteen year old self vowing to remain single and childless. He then explored how this influenced her subsequent decisions. I thought he did well at portraying Jane as a hurt child who spends much of her adult life trying to protect herself and also gain the love she craves -to basically replace what was missing from her childhood. While it is not some work of great literature, overall Leaving the World was engaging and enjoyable to read. It was quite tragic at times and had some interesting suggestions about the outcomes of ones life choices.
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