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The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier

I think this is Nichole Bernier's first novel.  If I recall correctly, I came across this book in a review in BookPage and thought it sounded good.  Anyway that was a while ago and now I'm finally getting around to reading it.  Ultimately it's a good read--it reads fast. And you feel compassion for the main character, Kate, because she's kind of at a precarious crossroads in her life, she's mourning the loss of her closest friend, there's a growing distance between her and her husband, and while she tries to reach out to him while she works through her grief compounded by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he's all, 'eh, I've worked through all that, and I'm over it and why can't you be too.'

It's the summer following the terrorist attacks of 2011, and Kate's struggling to cope with a world seemingly on fire--there are stories in the news every day about a new terrorist plot or cell being foiled, another anthrax laced letter, or a suicide bombing in the Middle East.  These anxieties exacerbate the grief she feels over the sudden death of her friend, Elizabeth, just a month or so before the terrorist attacks.  Designated the executor of her dear friend's journals, the task is both a precious gift and an impossibly difficult project since it's left to Kate to decide what becomes of her friend's journals.  The only stipulation Elizabeth gives is that Kate must read through them all  in order beginning with the first one begun when Elizabeth was just 12 to the last one that chronicles her last months alive.

As Kate reads the journals another Elizabeth, vastly different from the woman Kate knew, emerges as all her secrets she kept from those close to her are laid bare in the pages of the notebooks.  What's clear is that reading the journals is something that Kate has to do before she finally moves on with her life, and that it is tied up in finally processing the terrorist attacks.  It will also challenge Kate's own marriage, a marriage already threatening to come apart at the seams, as it becomes clear to Kate that due to events of the previous year, she is no longer the same person she was earlier in her marriage.

The story is as much about mourning the loss of a friend while coming to terms with the fact that there was much that friend kept hidden from those close to her as it is about coming to terms with a world that will never be the same in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.  These are the things that change not just our world but us as well,  and as a result alter our relationships with those closest to us.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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