Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Personal Effects by E.M.Kokie

E.M.Kokie writes on her blog that she "always loved the way a good book could sweep me away, but I was a lazy student and never thought I could actually be a writer. So in between the usual tortures of high school, I made up stories, but kept them in my head." www.emkokie.com/about.php Get into her first book, Personal Effects(2012), and you will likely understand a little more about why and how she writes as well as give her a big high five for holding onto those stories until she was ready to plunk them down on paper for the rest of us. Engaging from the start, I savored my time in this book and am eager to read more of her work.

Matt is a high-school teen heart and soul broken by the death of his brother T.J. Kokie ties in the armed services, Iraq, and the tensions held in relationships with a careful set of details that keenly help her tell the story she crafts. As I think back about the novel, I find a deeper appreciation for the characters in the story, even for the father who comes off as such an ugly, angry man. Which-- teeny spoiler alert-- he is. But there is more to that story....as there is in each relationship that Matt engages with throughout his efforts to understand who his brother was and what material objects symbolized for him.

I really appreciated how the author teased apart the relationships in this book. It would easy to simply say that Matt is pissed that his brother died, but Kokie digs into what makes him tick, like she does with most characters, with a particular depth that engaged me further. This is a keeper for me.

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