Title: Shadow Tag
Author: Louise Erdrich
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Record Books - Harper
Reader: Coleen Marlo (very good)
Date Completed: November/2012
Rating: 4/5Recommend: yes
Shadow Tag is one of those stories where a married couple, this one with (3) children, stay together even though everyone knows that they would be better off living apart. Well, everyone in the family at least; to the outside world, they seem like the perfect Native American family.
The couple is Irene and Gil, two people who have a love-hate relationship, with their constant fighting, anger, rage, and downright hatred playing out on a regular basis. Their children, ages 14 to 6, Florian, Riel and Stoney are often witnesses to much of what goes on between the parents, and even the children and family dog are sensitive to the tension. Each knows when to get out of the way of the parents. Irene wants a divorce from Gil. He's a somewhat famous artist, and Irene has been his model for some 15 years. She has often being subjected to posing in crude demeaning positions, even looking beaten, bruised and bloodied. She's conflicted - she has been working on her graduate degree and dissertation for many years and often drinks too much as well. She wants out of her marriage, but she hangs in there believing that she is doing it for her children because Gil will not let her leave with them.
When Irene discovers early on that Gil has been reading her personal diary, she comes up with an idea to really give him something to read, that may make him want to divorce after all. The red diary embellished with statements that are meant to set her husband off (which Gil reads), she writes of her sexual encounters with other men. The blue diary (kept safely locked) is the one where Irene writes with honesty the frustrations about her marriage to Gil. Of course, nothing good can come from her plan.
This story as I'm sure you have gathered was very dark, and even tragic. I did not like either of the parents in this story and felt for the children -- each distinctly different and damaged by their surroundings. Each of the children, I was able to sympathize with. Listening to this audio book was like having this black cloud brooding above me. Although, I was not sure how this rather short novel was going to end, I was still taken aback when I turned the final pages.
As with any Louise Erdrich book I've read, I was not disappointed.