Thursday, May 18, 2006

ANYBODY OUT THERE? by Marian Keyes

Doris Dixon reviews ANYBODY OUT THERE? by Marian Keyes (William Morrow, 2006)

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. In fact, most reviews of this book blow the surprise and I agonized over whether I should reveal what I wished I hadn't learned from those others...

Anna has survived a horrific taxi-cab accident and is recuperating with her family in Ireland. Things don't look good: broken arm, busted knee, nasty scars. And her family is wacko. She has four sisters, each with their own special "issues" including broken marriages, kooky careers, and recovery from assorted addictions. Mom is a bit theatrical. While caring for Anna, she assumes the mannerisms of her favorite soap opera nurses. With all of these personalities, who can blame Dad for staying in the background? Worst of all, Anna cannot get in touch with her husband Aidan back in New York City.

Frustrated by the unanswered e-mails and cell phone calls and only partially recovered, Anna returns home to track down her hubby. She finds an empty apartment and dozens of answering-machine messages from friends and loved ones. But no Aidan.

Here's the spoiler: Aidan died in the accident that left Anna so severely injured.

After weeks of denial, she finally faces the sad truth. However, instead of grief counseling Anna tries to contact Aidan through various spiritual mediums. She's convinced that he was planning to tell her something important the night of the accident.

It seems that many of the bestsellers in the Popular Library are plot-centered, quick reads. ANYBODY OUT THERE? is not one of those books. Its charm is in the description of all the crazy things that Anna goes through coming to terms with Aidan's death. We also learn how they met; meet their eccentric friends and neighbors; and follow Anna's career with a top PR firm specializing in cosmetics. Check out pages 61-64 for Anna's humorous speed-dating experiences.

Marian Keyes has gained a wide following with her funny novels about young women struggling with some of the rougher aspects of life including drug addiction and depression. Born in Ireland in 1963, Keyes admits to suffering from insecurity for most of her life. She began drinking at an early age and often made career decisions that reflected her insecurity. For example, she did not think that she was good enough to use her law degree professionally. She attempted suicide in 1994. Luckily, that low point was the impetus for Keyes to seek treatment for alcoholism. Although she had done some writing before her suicide attempt, after treatment she began writing more seriously. Her life improved with her marriage and the publication of her first novel Watermelon, both in 1995. Her subsequent novels have built on the success of the first.

Keyes' Walsh-sister novels include:

You might also like IF YOU COULD SEE ME NOW by Cecelia Ahern.

Source for Biographical Information: "Marian Keyes." Newsmakers, Issue 2. Thomson Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2006. Biography Resource Center is one of the Library's Online Databases. Call 415-2700 for login help.

Doris Dixon, Raleigh Branch Library


I think it's OK that there was a spoiler. I am not sure if I would want to read this book without the knowledge you gain from giving away the fact that her husband is dead. It seems like the "meat" of the book comes from all the experiences she faces coming to terms with his death. This one sounds like a winner!

How much to reveal in a review is a tricky issue. The blurb on the dust jacket does NOT mention Aidan's death. Perhaps because ANYBODY OUT THERE? is SUCH a descriptive novel, the people who "packaged" it thought many readers would need a little suspense to keep them interested. What some might find charming (details about dating, family squabbles, the strange outfits Anna is required to wear by the PR firm to promote Candy Grrrl cosmetics) others might find too cutesy or even boring. What do others think?
Wow! I got to chapter 9 or something last night. Anna has just returned to NY and her job. On the bus this morning going to work the story was going around in my head and how it doesn't add up. Why wouldn't Aiden contact here and so far and it hit me. Aiden died! And I just had to find out if I was right so thank you for giving me this spoiler. Now I can continue reading without wanting to skip ahead all the time and understand from the beginning what Anna is going through.

Great book by the way.
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