Monday, November 19, 2012

A Child Out of Alcatraz

Title:  A Child Out of Alcatraz
Author:  Tara Ison
Publication Information:  Foreverland Press. 1997. 132 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as an pdf attachment to an email.

Favorite Quote:  "So if I don't feed her, she doesn't eat; if I don't change her, she gets a rash - why do you act like these things are unimportant, then tell me motherhood is the most important job in the world?"

A Child Out of Alcatraz is the story of Olivia and her family and a story of Alcatraz, the place and the prison. Olivia's father is a prison guard at Alcatraz. Her mother Vivien seems to be caught in a life that she feels captive in. Through flashbacks, we learn that she idealistically stepped into a marriage that did not lead to a life she envisioned. The promises and dreams differ greatly from the reality. The reality becomes a demanding husband, children, and an isolated life on Alcatraz. Told through Olivia's eyes, the story is one of Vivien's descent further and further into the despair of her life and the effects it has on Olivia.

This book tells two stories - one the fictional account of Olivia and one the true history of Alcatraz. The author provide many accounts of historical events seamlessly incorporating the characters through the story. It almost gives the book the tone and voice of a memoir.

Olivia's story is a heart wrenching one. A young child is forced to grow up too fast both because of where she lives and because her mother cannot "mother" her. My heart reaches out to her, wanting to protect and shelter her from the reality of her life. The character of Vivien is at times a sympathetic one because of the situation she finds herself in. However, because of some of her choices particularly towards her children, the sympathy wears thin after a while.

Overall, a beautiful debut novel which makes you care about the characters and what happens to them. I look forward to reading more from Tara Ison.

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