October 20, 2009

The first great read in a while: NO TIME TO WAVE GOODBYE by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Filed under: Great Reads — jenny @ 7:47 pm

Those of you who read this site–really read it, with the proverbial fine tooth comb–have seen Jacquelyn Mitchard’s name already and know the pivotal role she played in my evolution as a writer.

But I’m writing about her today not because of anything having to do with me, but because Jacquelyn recently released a wonderful novel. She might be most famous for having penned the first Oprah book club selection, and indeed that’s the book I refer to in my earlier post. There have been many gripping reads after that–STILL SUMMER, for example.

But Jacquelyn’s newest novel may be her greatest feat yet because with it she revisits the people and topic of her first work, but manages to top its suspense, energy, and chilling content. If you’ve written a novel yourself you can probably relate to what a challenge this would be. All the drive it takes to write one novel and present it to the world as a whole and finished piece…

And then go back and mine for more material, and have it not be dry or reworked in the slightest, but even more gripping…I couldn’t get my head around that task. But I sure enjoyed watching how Jackie did it.

For those few readers on earth who don’t already know, THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN concerns a child abduction with a happy ending. Or is it? When I read Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, I felt it ended as well as it could have. But her latest, NO TIME TO WAVE GOODBYE, will make you question that.

In NO TIME there is another kidnapping. And although the coincidence of this is acknowledged a few times in the book, it actually didn’t feel coincidental at all to me. It felt inevitable, and sorrowful, and deeply, deeply fated. Never once did I question the plot; I was merely swept along.

The final chapter is almost a story unto itself, although utterly necessary to the novel it completes. I thought it was a mini masterpiece. All is subtext and yet it’s so clear it sings. It did something very rare for me as a reader–made me cry.

I think you might, too. Please comment after you’ve read and let me know what you think about the whole happy ending thing.

I am beginning to think that a really good writer will make us realize that there is no such thing. I don’t mean that there are no happy endings. I mean that there are no endings at all.


  1. I have to confess I haven’t read this author’s offerings. But now I am curious! (Maybe these can be up for book club selections at the Cafe??) :^) You’ve described the books wonderfully, and it is particularly difficult to make “coincidental” things not seem forced, but instead sweep people along into the plot.

    However, to give credit where credit is due, I think our friend Josephine deserves a mention for the ability to create several novels on the same topic without being boring: her trilogy is THE EXACT SAME STORY from different characters’ perspectives–each one of them having missed the others’ plots! It’s amazing. The only other trilogy I’ve ever seen that managed this was Herself Surprised, To Be a Pilgrim, and The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary.

    Comment by sapphiresavvy — October 20, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

  2. Hi Jenny,

    Looks like a great read. I haven’t read her either–so you have enticed two new readers to Jacquelyn’s stable. Still struggling with the happy ending thing. I think it has to come from the story first. At least half the people I know who read Edgar Sawtelle said they were disappointed with the ending. But I don’t see how it could have ended any other way.

    Comment by Jacqui Carney — October 23, 2009 @ 7:19 am

  3. I’ll pass the news on to “the other” Jackie, and welcome to the site yourself! Here’s another I’m about to read…DOUBLE EXPOSURE by Michael Lister…published by a neat independent press I’m going to talk about here one of these days. The interesting thing with this read is that I’ll be anticipating a disappointing ending the whole time, as everyone has said they don’t know why the author did it the way he did. However, the premise and writing are enough to draw me in–plus it’ll be fodder for this discussion on endings.

    Please let me know, Sav and Jacqui, what you think of NO TIME. In the meantime, both of your differing takes on EDGAR has done it…off to the indie on Monday to buy the book like the rest of America!

    Comment by jenny — October 23, 2009 @ 7:49 am

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