Lily Iona MacKenzie gives us a lovely story.
After meeting Bubbles, the stereotypical older, tired grandmother character is tossed out the door. Bubbles not only defies tradition, she is the complete antithesis of the typical elderly character. “Her blue eyes aren’t glazed over with cataracts as with some older people but look bright—alive.” She is boisterous, confident, and comfortable in her own skin. Bubbles is unafraid to engage in activities that are often considered reserved for a younger generation. When Bubbles travels to Mexico, she flirts without reservation, unconcerned that the recipients are many years her junior. Her complete unabashed attitude when it comes to romance and attraction is certainly one of the more endearing aspects of her character. It may be this prominence of Bubbles’s personality, however, that makes her daughter seem almost lackluster in comparison. Feather is the reticent, withdrawn counterpart to Bubbles’s outlandish actions and uncensored verbiage, and in many cases, seems to be controlled by Bubbles. It’s oftentimes unclear what Feather’s goals are, as much of the main action of the story centers on her mother. I did enjoy the jumps back in time to Bubble’s youth and family in Scotland. There was heart and warmth to Anne and Malcolm.
While the narration is colorful and strong and the story has a solid foundation, the omniscient POV limited my connection to the main characters and was a little hard to follow at times. In fact, I often had trouble distinguishing between the two voices and adjusting to the quick shifts in time, which is why I recommend listening to the audio version. The narrator, Anna Crowe, did a fantastic job. Look her up here: http://www.crowecreative.com/audio and listen to a demo of her voice. Her clear, soothing tones took such good care of the words and helped to clarify transitions, time changes, and separation of characters.
Beneath the plot line of Bubbles and her mission to properly care for her mother’s ashes—this story is, at its heart, a tale of a mother and daughter and their journey to rebuild and strengthen a fractured relationship while finding themselves in the process. Both women come of age through individual experiences (a wild celebration as a fertility deity for one, a hot shaman for the other), and both come into their own as mother and daughter. Whether Bubbles’s antics amuse you, horrify you, or both, you are sure to find laughs and maybe even a few tears in the grown-up version of a bildungsroman that is sure to prove that age is truly just a number.
Bone Songs, a novel, coming in spring 2017
Freefall: A Divine Comedy, coming in 2018