Olivia Gray’s childhood memories are ones of loneliness, fear and isolation. Kept at home with her uncaring and fanatical stepmother and educated by her moody and unpredictable father, she longed for a normal and loving home. Olivia kept her wishes in a secret journal she called the Book of Someday, an “evolving map” of her heart. Almost 20 years later, Olivia, now called Livvi, has made her Book of Someday a reality of sorts by thinly veiling her early sadness and abuse in a work of fiction. THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY is the title of both Livvi’s book and Dianne Dixon’s second novel, which follows Livvi as she moves toward the moment that makes sense of her past and the nightmare that plagues her sleep.
Livvi’s story is intertwined with that of two other women, who, at first, seem to be unrelated to each other. Micah is a renowned New York photographer, beautiful, tough and talented. But having just received a diagnosis of breast cancer, she begins a journey to find redemption for an act in her past that torments her. From old friends to her aging parents, Micah turns to those she hopes will help her decide whether or not to seek treatment, all the while she is being asked what to do with her first important photograph.
"THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY is an engaging story, cleverly plotted with emotional immediacy."
AnnaLee is a wife and mother on Long Island who is struggling to motivate her head-in-the-clouds husband, Jack, to commit to a career. She is selling off family heirlooms to pay their bills and stressed out about introducing Jack to a well-connected local woman when her niece, Persephone, comes to stay with them for the summer. As the weeks go by, AnnaLee finds a sweetness in Persephone that most people don’t see, and a love grows between her and the troubled teenager. AnnaLee is amazed to see love growing between her niece and her young daughter, Bella, as well.
But Persephone has set something in motion that will devastate the relatives who took her in and gave her comfort. The tension mounts as the stories of these three women unfold, and it becomes clear just how they are related, how their lives cataclysmically intersected and then spun away from each other with a destructive force that has taken decades to settle.
THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY is a novel populated by characters haunted by their own past mistakes and the heartbreaking mistakes of others. Livvi, Micah and AnnaLee are all compelling characters with interesting stories, though they remain a bit enigmatic, even at the end of the story; AnnaLee is less fleshed out than the other women but is also the character who pulls the book together. Both Livvi and Micah are on courses of transformation and find wisdom and hope in unexpected places. A vision of a particularly dressed woman, at times nightmarish and at other times a vision of beauty, weaves in and out of the three narratives, adding a sense of mystery to the novel.
Dixon’s style is choppy and brisk, especially at the beginning, when readers find passages such as this one, where the love of Micah’s life is introduced: “Only one who has ever been important. Only Jason. Always. And only. Jason.” The writing does get smoother over the course of the book. Nevertheless, THE BOOK OF SOMEDAY is an engaging story, cleverly plotted with emotional immediacy. The freedom from the demons of the past and the peace found in love and acceptance are hard won for the characters here, making for a formidable and honest novel that tackles questions of identity, expression, love and change.
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on November 29, 2013
The Book of Someday