Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"A Better Life," An Exemplary Book

Rebecca Burgess' debut novel wrangles you into Wyoming, and won't let you go until you've breathlessly followed Hollis Dixon along the winding trail of his life, down into Colorado.

Hollis Dixon has plenty of family secrets. He is brimming with ambition, yearning to transcend the darkness of his past and live a doctor's Cadillac lifestyle. His earnest hard work to absolve family sins is often thwarted, forcing him down unlikely paths as father and family patriarch. The narrative relays between father and children, illuminating Hollis' hopes and desires in the harsh gaze of failures and mistakes. If you're like me and watched Will Smith's performance in "The Pursuit of Happyness," egging Chris Gardner on as he valiantly fights for his own better life, this book won't leave your hands while you're still cheerleading for Hollis and his family to make it.

Burgess' careful construction of relationships and her virtuosic plot arcs are awesome to behold. This book is honest, blunt...unafraid of incest, violence, or heartbreak. But amid the tension dwells persistent hope. Hollis gets his Cadillac, but it comes at a dear price.

I'll admit, I'm a sucker for the odd recognizable geographic feature: a specific street in Denver, a particular house that I'd swear I've driven past...Denver and Colorado should be proud to call Rebecca Burgess their own. This reader is eagerly awaiting her new novel, still in progress.

"A Better Life" will strike the reader who wonders why his or her youthful dreams didn't come true--and then realizes that in the most unexpected way, those dreams are more than true. Any fan of the art of brilliant prose writing will want "A Better Life" on their shelves. Come to the Tattered Cover and grab this one fast--it's been a hot seller ever since it re-appeared in the stores last month.

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