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12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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28 / 51 states. 55% done!

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23 / 50 books. 46% done!

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10 / 25 books. 40% done!

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64 / 104 books. 62% done!

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43 / 52 books. 83% done!

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69 / 165 books. 42% done!
Friday, April 03, 2015

Missing Voice of Childhood Tess Leads to Less Appealing Adult Tess Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Surviving childhood with a mother like Louise ("To her love-thirsty girls, she was an oasis that would appear and disappear at will" [79]) took courage, determination, and strength.  As a child, Tess Blessing had them all in spades.  Now 49, she's a dowdy, paranoid housewife who keeps the scars of her traumatic growing-up years buried deep, where she doesn't have to examine them too closely.  She's got enough adult problems to deal with, like her daughter's eating disorder, her husband's growing disinterest, and her estranged relationship with her beloved younger sister.  Then comes a shocking diagnosis: breast cancer.  

Sure she's on her deathbed, Tess vows not to put off for another second the things she really needs to do:  make peace with her sister, finally spread her mother's ashes, rescue her daughter, and reignite the spark that used to burn so brightly between herself and Will, her husband of nearly thirty years.  It won't be easy, especially the parts that involve digging deep into her injured heart and soul.  Unbeknownst to Tess, she has a special guide—Grace could be an angel, a pretend friend, or some other figment of Tess's overactive imagination, but she's there—to help her endure the pain.  As Tess tries to make headway on her challenging bucket list, she'll need all the aid she can get.  Can she tap into the tenacity that defined her as a child in order to move past the heartaches of life?  Or will she die without ever accomplishing the things she most longs to do?

As much as I love Lesley Kagen's books, I have to say The Resurrection of Tess Blessing is not my favorite.  I fell in love with the title character after reading The Undertaking of Tess, a prequel that offers a glimpse of Tess as a child.  Vintage Kagen, the novella shines because of its narrator's strong, engaging voice.  Because of that, I was looking forward to another adventure with this unique character.  Unfortunately, the voice that spoke to me so strongly is almost non-existent in The Resurrection of Tess Blessing.  Although I liked the concept of a guardian angel/imaginary friend telling the story of adult Tess (who remains an uncommon individual), I found Tess's childhood self so much more appealing!  Still and all, The Resurrection of Tess Blessing is not a bad novel.  In fact, it's sympathetic, funny, and relatable.  It just doesn't have the spark I expected after reading The Undertaking of Tess.  Despite some copy editing issues, I enjoyed the novel overall.  Just not as much as I wanted to.  


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language (a half dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder invectives) and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Resurrection of Tess Blessing from the generous folks at Book Sparks.  Thank you!
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