This review is part of a MotherTalk blog tour
It’s amazing how much can change in one day. The events of one day can turn a happy, easygoing child into one with several phobias – we saw that with MG when she was hospitalized for 5 days at 3 1/2. How much can really change as the result of one day? 24 hours can hold a lot of power. I hadn’t really thought about how much difference a day can make until I read Once Upon a Day: A Novel, by Lisa Tucker.
This is an amazing and fascinating book, one which I plan to loan to everyone I know – it is completely engrossing. Ms. Tucker builds characters with such depth, they feel like real people… it felt like the book shouldn’t end, because their stories must continue. This book leaves me wishing I had a book group to discuss it with! So, everybody go read Once Upon a Day and then we can chat!
Ms. Tucker writes the book using a mix of third person and first person. For most books, that would leave me confused and annoyed. Somehow it works here, though. The major character is Dorothea, and her story is told in the first person. The chapters that revolve around her parents and the people she meets are told in the third person. As the story weaves in and out of different lives, the change in narration flows perfectly, and without the jolt of confusion when the narrator changes I get from other books with similar narration styles.
Dorothea is a young woman who was raised with her older brother by her father and paternal grandmother in an estate/home called “The Sanctuary”. The Sanctuary has many, many rules about safety, and they could either be viewed as protective or oppressive. Dorothea knows they moved there when she was 4 and her brother 6, following an event in their prior home in California. They have no media coming into the home, and her father dresses everyone in outfits that would be appropriate in the Fifties. In fact, no media past 1960 is in the home. Dorothea reveres her father, and doesn’t want to think or say or hear anything against him. However, her older brother is more rebellious, and leaves The Sanctuary to find his own way in the world.
When Dorothea’s father gets very sick, she leaves him in the care of their family doctor (who makes house calls! I want that!) to search for her brother. As she searches for him, she meets a man whose life had also changed in one day.
As Dorothea searches with her new friend for her brother, and then for answers about her early life, we are taken back and forth in time to discover what happened on that day to change her life and her family’s life. We see both sides of all the characters – everyone has both a redeeming quality and a flaw as we delve into their lives.
Reading this book was amazing – it really sucks you into it. Once Upon a Day is one of those books you can’t put down – you want to shut yourself into a closet and finish the book, but you don’t want it to end! The characters are so well developed that you really do wonder “what next?” at the end of the book – it’s so clear that the lives of the characters continue.
Once Upon a Day also leaves me wondering about my life, and the life of my family. At what point are parents so overprotective that they are smothering? And what level of distance is OK? Can a horrible wrong ever truly be righted? How much of our lives are changed by the events of one day?
A huge thumbs up from here for Once Upon a Day!