Book Review: Between Here and April

Between Here and April
Author: Deborah Copaken Kogan
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Collection

Kogan’s novel, Between Here and April, is a haunting story about maternal love gone wrong. Before settling down and starting a family Elizabeth Burns was a journalist covering international war stories. Now she is the mother of two young daughters, and is married to a man, who in her opinion, works too much. Elizabeth is struggling to save her marriage, and find purpose in her life beyond her duties as a mother.

The stresses in her life cause a deep-rooted memory to suddenly surface and Elizabeth finds herself obsessed with investigating the disappearance of her childhood friend April Cassidy.  Her initial investigation leads her to a thirty-five-year-old newspaper article that reveals details of April’s disappearance that had been hidden from her as a child. Adele, April’s mother committed an unthinkable crime. Elizabeth embarks on a journey into her own past to track down people who knew Adele in an effort to gain insight. What Elizabeth doesn’t bargain for is how Adele’s story will raise questions about her own upbringing and how she parents her children.

Any book that brings to light a new topic of cultural and/or historical interest I find intriguing. Kogan introduces her readers to the female culture of the 1950s and the oppressive nature of this time in American history. I saw this most clearly in the relationship Elizabeth has with her own mother. They struggle to connect, mostly because of the cultural shift in what is considered ok for a mother to do and be. This element of the story has encouraged me to learn more about the life of mothers in the 1950s, beyond our stereotypical visions of Leave it to Beaver.

The only issue I had with the book was the ending. I felt that it wrapped up too neatly. After covering such a deep issue the ending was a little bit too happily ever after for me, although the symbolic encounter at the photography exhibit was an interesting ending. Overall I enjoyed the novel and am interested in reading Kogan’s memoir Shutterbabe.

3.5 out of 5 stars.


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