Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review: There Will Come a Time

There Will Come a Time
By Carrie Arcos
Published 2014 by Simon Pulse

Mark has been suffering since the accident that killed his twin sister Grace. He has turned himself into a porcupine, prickly and angry, someone no one really knows how to deal with. His sister's best friend, Hanna, tries to offer him comfort and understanding, but Mark isn't sure what to want, especially when he feels so guilty. So when Hanna suggests they complete a list of Five Things I Want to Do This Year, written by Grace, Mark agrees begrudgingly. But checking those things off the list may just help him figure some things out.

I grabbed an ARC of this at ALA Midwinter on the author's name alone. I haven't read anything by her, but I know her 2013 release was a National Book Award finalist. That's enough to pique my interest in the new title. I'm really glad I picked this up.

This book is an astoundingly well-written portrait of grief. I've never lost a twin, but I have lost a sibling, and I am always interested in books that deal explicitly with this kind of loss, something that is not that common to see. Arcos does a fantastic job here, detailing the generalities of grief and the peculiarities of losing a sibling. As I said, I didn't lose a twin, so I don't know exactly what that feels like, but I feel pretty safe in saying that Arcos writes it accurately. The complex swirl of emotions is certainly accurate and Arcos did a fantastic job capturing many of the emotions I felt (and still feel to this day). Perhaps the two things I loved most Mark's grief were his difficulty understanding that he wasn't the only one to lose Grace and his insistence on remembering Grace as an imperfect person. I spent and still spend a lot of time trying to comprehend how my grief is different than that of my parents. Yes, we lost the same person, but we lost them in different ways. What does it mean to lose a sibling? What does it mean to lose a child? And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Mark has to slowly realize that he doesn't own the market on grief for Grace. She had many people in her life and she meant something different to all of them and they are all grieving differently for their unique losses.

Additionally, I really appreciated Mark's desire to remember not only Grace's good qualities, but her flaws as well. This is something I personally have struggled with surrounding the loss of my brother. We did not always have a good relationship, and I think that can be said of many siblings. The sibling relationship seems particularly fraught with complicated feelings. When my brother died, it was hard for me to see people remembering only the good times with him. Those are important, but they're only part of the picture. The good times are tangled up with the bad, and, to accurately remember and grieve a person, you have to look at the whole picture.  Arcos just captures so many pieces of the grief puzzle spot-on.

I though Mark was a great character and I loved his individual complexities. I like that Arcos incorporated his ethnic identity (the family is Filipino) seamlessly into the story, so it didn't become about their identity, but it was still important to creating him as a multi-dimensional character. I liked that he found the courage to reach out to a support group, something I've never done, to seek answers to some of his questions, many of which are similar to my own (i.e., "am I still a twin/am I still someone's sister?"). I loved the complexities of Mark's relationships with the other members of his family, as well as with his friends and his difficulty comprehending his sister's life separate from his own.

This book had me an emotional mess for probably the last 40 pages or so, but it felt good to feel that way. I can't imagine a reader who wouldn't be touched by this story and I hope it finds a wide audience.

My only complaint is that I felt the "bucket list" to be almost unnecessary to the plot. There is so much else happening that pushes the plot along that I frequently forgot Mark and Hanna were even working on the bucket list. But it does lead to some key emotional points in the story, so I can understand it. I just think the book probably would have worked without it also.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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