Friday, March 6, 2015

Etta and Otto and Russell and James; Emma Hooper

Etta and Otto and Russell and James; Emma Hooper
Simon & Schuster - 2015

I like books that are a bit quirky and, it's a bonus when I come across stories with senior citizens as characters as well. So for me this novel got bonus points early on.

Etta Kinnick is in her early 80's and her memory isn't as sharp as it once was. She's a former school teacher from Saskatchewan and is married to Otto. One day when Otto wakes up he finds Etta gone. She's left him a note though, telling him that she has always wanted to -- "see the ocean", which is thousands of miles away. Her note further states that she will "try to remember to come back." She's evidently still concerned about Otto, and to ensure that he remembers to eat, she leaves him her recipe cards line up on the counter.

So begins Etta's unusual journey with only a few essential in tow: chocolate, a few changes of clothes, and the skull of a fish that she's had for years. Along the way she sends occasional notes to Otto. Through this exchange the reader gets a picture of the couple's early beginnings, backstory about their closet friend, Russell, who still lives next door. He is a man who has always been secretly in love with Etta. As for the "quirky" in this story, the "James" from the title, is actually a talking coyote that Etta supposedly meets along her journey.

I found this story hard to review. The set up and storyline is different. It slips back and forth in time, with a good portion devoted to Otto and Russell in the present, and what they should do about Etta out on her own. The writing is different, the story has it's touching moments, and there is a blend of fantasy mixed with reality as well. It is not a story that is going to appeal to all readers, but with themes like friendship, love, loneliness and loss, it will be a story that will stick with most readers longer than other novels. Overall a pretty impressive debut novel.

4/5 stars
(review copy)

10 comments:

  1. I like the sound of this book. I was a bit torn about this one, but I your review has intrigued me. Great review. :)

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  2. I definitely am adding this to my TBR list!

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  3. This sounds interesting. I've seen this around and liked the cover and title but didn't know what it was about. I'm adding this to my TBR

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  4. Sounds interesting. I do like that cover! It sounds a bit like a movie i seen once and now of course can not think of what it was, but it was good ;)

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  5. Kind of sounds a bit reminiscent of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Lost and Found. I liked Harold, but Lost and Found was too quirky for me, so I'm still kind of on the fence for this one.

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  6. I picked this book up Friday and am looking forward to reading it.

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  7. I do like the sound of this one...characters like this are fun and engaging. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I like quirky but I'm not sure about the talking coyote.

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