Sheehan, Jacqueline. The Center of the World. New York: Kensington Books, 2016.
Reason read: Here’s a confession. I met the author at my father-in-law’s book signing event. I was embarrassed that I didn’t recognize Sheehan (or her work) despite her being deemed a “best selling author” by the New York Times. In my defense, I would never buy her books for the library I manage. I highly doubt it will be on anyone’s syllabus soon.
My in-laws loaned me Center of the World and since it’s a signed copy I felt obligated to read it asap!
The concept for Center of the World is interesting. Kate, a budding scientist researching water quality in third world countries, finds herself in Guatemala during a civil war. After witnessing a horrible massacre Kate discovers there was only one other survivor, a Mayan toddler by the name of Sofia. Fearing for their lives as witnesses, Kate steals the child out of the country and raises her as her own. Twelve years go by and it looks as though Kate has gotten away with this illegal adoption, thanks to all the lies she has told over the years. However, her husband decides everyone, including Kate, needs to learn the truth. Add a government cover-up, a lost love interest, and a doting grandfather to round out the plot.
Small disappointment – I wanted to get to know Kate more. There were plenty of moments for further character development. For example, Kate leaves behind a lover in Guatemala. Supposedly Will is the true love who got away but there aren’t many opportunities for Kate to really demonstrate that loss. I would have liked to been a guest at her wedding to Martin. The hesitation before marrying the man who wasn’t her Guatemalan romance would have spoken volumes.
Book trivia: Sheehan is careful about dates. Each section of the novel is dated to set the reader in the appropriate place on Kate’s timeline. But, there is one detail that has me confused. In 1990 Kate meets Will, a “Peace Corp looking” kind of guy. After this initial meeting we jump into Will’s history (albeit without a benefit of a timeline, but we can assume it’s pre-Peace Corps; pre-Kate meet up). Here’s the rub – Will has a gift for learning languages and in talking to someone the language learning software Rosetta Stone is mentioned. Rosetta Stone, the learning tool, came about in 1992. Even if the man name-dropping Rosetta Stone was in the know way before 1992 Will shouldn’t have gotten the reference. Instead, he should have been confused by it.
What can I say about March? Personally, it’s the St. Patrick’s Day 10k road race. I’ve been injured so it’s hard to anticipate how well I will or won’t do. I went for my first outdoor run this weekend and ran 7.5 with a steady sub-10 pace. That felt strong! Happy girl! And speaking of strong, here’s what’s on deck for the books:
- Naked Lunch by William Burroughs – in honor of Jack Kerouac’s birth month. Jack and William were friends…
- Family Man by Jayne Ann Krentz – in honor of Krentz’s birth month
- The Brontes by Juliet Barker – in honor of March being literature month (over 1,000 pages!)
- Means of Ascent by Robert Caro – to continue the series started in honor of Presidents Day being in February (EB)
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – in honor of Maine becoming a state in March
- The Assistant by Bernard Malamud – Malamud died in March.
- Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie – in honor of the Academy Awards being in February and March (HOAYS was made into a movie)
- Confessional: still reading Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
- I am supposed to receive Why the Grateful Dead Matter by Michael Benson as a January Early Review book sometime in the month of March…As an aside, there are a few other books I haven’t received and feel bad that I never read or reviewed them. I am sure they have all been published by now and so (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I’m going to see if a library has them. If they do, I will read and review as if I got them as Early Reviews from LibraryThing. The first non-early review I am going to tackle is a book I was supposed to received in 2009 – Sanctuary of Outcasts, a memoir by Neil White.
So, February was a weird month. Being sick and injured didn’t help except that both ailments gave me more time to read. Turning 47 turned out to be not a big deal. Just another number in the grand scheme of things. The groundhog didn’t see his shadow either so there are less numbers in winter… And speaking of numbers – here are the books:
- A.D.: After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld
- Beautiful Place to Die by Philip Craig
- If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Sandra Loh
- Rocksburg Railroad Murders by K.C. Constantine
- As She Crawled Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem (AB)
- Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan
- Her First American by Lore Segal
- Down Where the Moon was Small or And I Shall Sleep…Down Where the Moon was Small by Richard Llewellyn
- Path to Power by Robert Caro – finishing TODAY!
- Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (AB)
- Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes (DNF)
- Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (AB) – will finish in March
- The Art of Dying by Patricia Weenolsen
- Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
- Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
- The Ultimate Treadmill Workout by David Siik
For LibraryThing’s Early Review program:
- Liar by Rob Roberge
I also spent some time revisiting the Challenge list. Because of all the missed individual titles I wanted to redo the schedule. That took up a great deal of my time!