You recall back in November a post where I interviewed Lena Donellan about being an author! Well, it is only fitting to write a book review of her novel that I was privileged to read!
"To a grieving man, he's a murderer; to an abused boy, he's a savior."
Characters: West of Yesterday shines with its character development. I followed the emotions of the main characters as if I were seeing them in person. Alan Bledsoe, a man struggling with accepting his past, rescues a boy named Scott from an abusive uncle. The two discover an unlikely connection with each other that has each realizing they possess a strength they did not know was there. Wade Belanger is searching for what he believes is justice, which includes capturing Alan. The sheriff in Ayer, John, wants to piece together the different puzzle pieces of each character's story to arrive at the truth. And finally my favorite character, Matt, who accompanies Wade, shows loyalty, dependability, and a search for truth that made him a noble person in my book!
Plot: The story had me captivated from beginning to end. I like to think I am good at predicting how a novel will unfold, but I was truly kept in suspense! I did not know how it would end and was kept guessing. I think I was most surprised (without giving anything away!) by one villain's change of heart and another's hardened heart...the contrast in what can create hope about a broken person and what cannot made you realize that people can change. There were definitely plot twists and a lot of excitement in a small western town. The different points of view served to create colorful pictures in your mind of each character's perspective.
Literary devices: The use of symbolism struck me as well with the name of the town being Ayer, which means yesterday, and in the end certain characters are able to head west of Ayer, as if they are leaving "yesterday" and all the past behind them. I loved the literary use of flashbacks and a gradual revelation of important events through the characters' memories. It blended the past, the present, and the future into a cohesive whole that was powerful. I also appreciated the analysis of grief and how it affects people differently, and that in working toward acceptance a person can ultimately find peace.
West of Yesterday is about a quest for self-discovery, understanding what it truly means to forgive, and sharing the hope that no matter how broken a man is there is a chance for redemption. If you are looking for an enjoyable summer read, then order a copy of Lena's novel here!