Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart- one of my favourite books of 2010 to date. On the other hand, perhaps you haven't, in which case I'll recap for you. I loved it. I felt like Leah Stewart got into my head and wrote about what it's like to be a wife and a mother and a woman. When I was seeking out books to take with me on my recent vacation, I was determined to choose books that weren't "review books". I was on vacation, and I was choosing to read just for me. Granted, I finished The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal during part of the 5- hour drive to get there (a review copy), but I had started it before we left, and I just cannot leave a book that I've started unfinished. Anyways, while at the library I chose to bring a copy of The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart home, along with a copy of Jennifer Weiner's latest, Fly Away Home.
The Myth of You and Me tells the story of the friendship between Cameron and Sonia. The two met at the age of 14, when Sonia, for no apparent reason, chose Cameron to share her true self with. Over the next several years the girls shared many things- high school, sleepovers, first kisses and college. When the book opens, the girls have had a falling out many years ago and are estranged. Cameron is working for an elderly historian, Oliver, whom she is a companion to, and whom she loves as one would love a parent. When a letter arrives for Cameron from Sonia, after many years of being out of touch, Oliver insists that Cameron finds Sonia and tries to fix whatever it is that is keeping them apart. Cameron is reluctant, she's a wanderer and is hesitant to form any lasting bonds in her adult life, but Oliver orchestrates something so that Cameron will have no choice but to do as he says.
As Cameron gets closer to finding Sonia, who has mysteriously made herself absent from both her home and her hometown, she reveals what it is that happened between them so many years ago, and she must decide if she is ready to put the past behind her and finally set down some roots.
I really lost myself in this book, but in a good way. Stewart reveals portions of the mystery surrounding Cameron and Sonia and what happened between them many years ago slowly, so that everything can sink in before the next piece of the puzzle is revealed. She brings the characters of Cameron and Sonia, both as children and as adults, to life. Cameron, who is obviously hurt by what happened in the past and is reluctant to put down roots of her own, was the character that I sympathized with the most. When Cameron begins to make her realizations about the past and about herself is was almost like reading a coming-of-age story, the story of Cameron coming into herself.
What I found really interesting is the contrasts between The Myth of You and Me and Stewart's latest book, Husband and Wife. I didn't really compare them while reading them, but after reading the last page of TMOYAM, I found myself thinking about how the two books were similar, and how they were different. One thing that I found different was the writing style. The words in Husband and Wife were lyrical, almost poetic in how they tumbled one after the other. That's one of the things that I adored about it. I wanted to read them aloud, I wanted to savour each one. TMOYAM was written in what I would consider a more "traditional" style, a style that you would expect general fiction to be written in. In both books the character's emotions shine through, and are what makes the books so relatable- that raw emotion is on every page. What I find funny is that if you read one right after the other, with the author's name erased, I don't know if you would be able to tell that they were by the same person. I enjoyed them both so much, but for different reasons, and I liked that! It brings me to the conclusion that Stewart's writing style has changed and evolved, and I like it when an author is not static. You can recognize some authors simply by reading a page or two- others continue to change and grow, just as we do as people.
I highly recommend The Myth of You and Me- to anyone who has ever had a lifelong friend, and to anyone who has ever mourned the end of a great friendship. And when you're done reading this one? Make sure you read Husband and Wife, another book bound to have you frantically turning the pages.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of Leah Stewart and contemporary fiction
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge