On a whim, I previously purchased Laura Spinella’s Ghost Gifts because of its subject matter. I quickly became engrossed in a novel that embodied romance, mystery, and the metaphysical. Not only was the story of Ghost Gifts addictive to me, but Spinella’s words themselves rapidly became captivating. She is one of those authors whose prose is like poetry, flowing smoothly across the page and roping the readers in so that they stay up all night reading her work. Ghost Gifts is one of the best books I’ve read in recent years.
Upon finishing Ghost Gifts, I quickly turned to the internet and was delighted to find that Spinella had a new novel, Unstrung, about to release. As I began the story, the main character Livy (Olivia Klein) is reading and ridiculing Ghost Gifts as being a preposterous book. I love when an author (or anyone, really) can laugh at herself.
As I progressed into Unstrung, I found myself enjoying a much more intense read than I expected. I actually had to take break from reading the novel because it touched on some very deep topics that are close to my heart. The plot seemed simple and somewhat superficial at first: Livy, a first chair violinist, is having major marital problems with her second husband. Her best friend and lawyer helps her through legal troubles, and Livy is serving out community service time at a local school for students with life challenges.
However, once one gets into Unstrung, the powerful theme of loss appears as the overarching tie between the characters of the book. The theme of loss applies to so many parts of the characters’ lives: illness, death, miscarriage, money, love, adoption, abuse, addiction, tragedy, broken relationships, divorce, and dreams. As Livy and those around her struggle with these painful issues, their lives come together in unexpected ways.
As much as I loved the majority of the work and as much as it challenged me to examine issues around loss in my own life, the improbable ending was a let-down. These were not the directions I could have seen for the characters, and they were not ones that felt realistic to me. I would have chosen a very different ending had I written Unstrung. However, despite the ending, Unstrung is a fabulous novel. I look forward to reading more by Spinella.
©2017 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC