Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton

  The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton
Author:  Eleanor Ray
Publication Information:  Gallery Books. 2021. 320 pages.
ISBN:  1982163526 / 978-1982163525

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "It really was too much."

Favorite Quote:  "Real life needed space to grow."

Amy Ashton is a thirty-something year old woman living alone in a home she owns. She is a hoarder, but she wasn't always. The traumatic, simultaneous disappearance of her long-time boyfriend and her best friend led to Amy's hoarding. "Belongings were what she could trust. People were not."

Amy Ashton met Tim at a party. He became the love of her life. She moved in with him and her best friend Chantal. Life was merry and joyful for a while. Then, one day Tim and Chantal disappeared. No note. No goodbye. No clues. There was an investigation, but nothing was found. It was presumed that they both deserted Amy and ran off together.

Amy never recovered. She changed. She withdrew more an more into herself. She turned into a hoarder. This is where the book begins. Her hoarding fills her home and spills over into her yard. Most spaces in her home are no longer accessible. The mass of stuff is providing a haven for creatures such as mice. Neighbors have complained. 

A new neighbor moves in - the right age and the right demeanor. He has two boys of his own. Can you see where this is going?

The book uses a two-timeline approach to tell the stories of Amy's past and present. This approach, for me, does not work as successfully as it does in other books. By the end, the two meet. That coming together is quick and convenient. It ties everything up in a neat package - too neat. Life is not that neat.

Somehow, through it all, Amy herself fails to develop into a sympathetic character. Perhaps a chronological story may have heightened the impact of the disappearance and presumed betrayal and the understanding of Amy's hoarding of particularl objects. Perhaps, a less than neat, conveniently packaged ending may have leant more reality to Amy's story. Perhaps, the use of more realistic supporting characters than the stereotypical handsome neighbor and the mean neighbor may have helped develop Amy's characters. Perhaps, the more depth to the relationships than the instant conversion of enemies to friends and neighbors into more may have helped.

The issue of hoarding is central to this book. Yet, it does not appear to be given the depth and challenge that the issue deserves. Amy emerges out of her need to hoard as the unresolved mysteries of her life find resolution. Yet, no mention is made of help or resources sources sought. It appears too simplified a depiction. A trauma leads to uncontrolled hoarding. A friendship and a resolution to a mystery is the only impetus needed to lead towards a cure from the condition. Maybe it happens that way, but, most likely, it takes considerable more.

Sadly, much as I want to like Amy and her story, I was not the right reader for this book.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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