A dark and dysfunctional love story.
Why She Left Us by David Dennis
Format: PDF provided by the author for an honest review
Read: June 14-16, 2014
Why She Left Us on Goodreads
It was the summer of 1985, and she was young and inexperienced, but longing to love and to be loved in return, when he entered her life.
At the same time, while she was desperately seeking the love and approval of a mother who never wanted her in the first place, events totally beyond her control claimed her as their victim, leaving those she left behind unable to cope with the enormity of her absence.
“WHY SHE LEFT US” is written as a series of diary entries, the events seen through the eyes of several different people.
But at its center is a love story chronicling a romance that transforms the lives of two people who, for too brief a period of time, experienced the greatest happiness they had ever known.
The summer of 1985 proves to be the disastrous undoing of a whole family in David Dennis’ Why She Left Us. The book is written in a series of diary or journal entries authored by five main characters – three sisters, their aunt, and the boy loved by one of the sisters.
The characters each date their journal entries and, if you aren’t paying attention to the dates, it’s very easy to get very confused right from the start! Each of the narrators tells the story in his or her own voice with his or her own biases and slants. The only “true narrator” seems to be eldest sister Betsy, whose entries are in chronological order, while the others are at a date after The Event.
It’s a little tricky to write about the main plot of the book because, trying to unfold just what happened and how each of the characters are involved is one of the strengths of Why She Left Us. The unfolding mystery of The Event that all of the narrators are referring to – and that Betsy is building up to – is probably what I liked best about the book; it kept me turning the pages to find out just what, exactly, happened and who did what when.
I say that Betsy seems to be the only “true” narrator because her voice and perspective, to me, were the most honest. Good or bad, self-deprecating or full of praise, she kind of simply laid out the events of the day as they happened. The other characters, with perhaps the exception of Aunt Lucille, tell such pieces of the story that are heavily marred by their personalities that it’s hard to trust the information they provide.
David Dennis gives each narrator a distinct voice, which is quite the accomplishment. Many authors struggle to utilize such distinctness in the varied voices of their narrators. And the story is quite heartbreaking . . . and yet, it’s also disturbingly dysfunctional. At times the voice of Betsy seems too odd and out of place to maintain belief, but I liked Betsy. I rooted for her and was rather sad when The Event came to the climax.
Why She Left Us is an interesting read. A puzzle and a romance of sorts, with a moral reminiscent of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”