Lavanya Karthik: Lavanya is from Mumbai, India and is a licensed
architect and consultant in environmental management. She lives in
Mumbai with her husband and six-year old daughter. She loves reading
and enjoys a diverse range of authors across genres.
Author: Bonnie Grove
Publisher: David C Cook
ISBN : 978-1-4347-6641-0
Click Here To Purchase Talking to the Dead: A Novel
“Where ," mulls Kate Davis, the narrator and central character of this book, “did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake?” These words set the tone for this debut novel, by turns humorous and reflective, about self discovery and coming to terms with loss.
Young and newly widowed, Kate grieves for her beloved husband Kevin by withdrawing from her life and family. All of a sudden, she begins hearing Kevin’s voice speaking to her. Even as she wonders if she is losing her sanity, his presence becomes increasingly hostile. Her attempts to seek help from psychics, counselors and priests leave her steadily disillusioned, before she begins to look inward for the roots to her predicament . As she slowly unravels the bitter secrets of her marriage,she finds both betrayal among those closest to her, and allies in unlikely places. In her quest to find the strength and conviction to get pass her sorrow and anger, she also moves from agnosticism to faith. Most of all, Kate realizes the need to forgive herself for the poor choices she has made in an effort to hold onto a relationship that was not as ideal as she believed.
‘Talking..’ charts Kate’s rocky path to emotional and spiritual recovery with empathy. The book paints a rather bleak picture of the mental health industry with its over-reliance on prescription drugs, and is also critical of over zealous evangelists and their harsh interpretation of the gospel. Grove mines familiar territory here; she is trained in Christian counseling, has authored a self help guide in the past, and is also married to a pastor.
The character of Kate is drawn well; despite the emotional blows she suffers, she emerges a survivor, and on her own terms. The plot involves both romance and finding God, but these never overshadow Kate’s own quest for closure; rather, they emerge as natural consequence of her own passage from hurt towards healing. The plot is also open ended on the reasons Kate hears her husband’s voice; it chooses to stay focused on her journey towards life. The narrative does sag in the middle, and could have benefited from tighter editing. Some characters appear rather stereotypical – the psychic and evangelist are cases in point, as also the tearful Blair, Kevin's best friend. But these are still minor issues in an otherwise interesting and readable book about one woman’s internal journey toward finding herself.