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Readers' Comments for The Mourning Hours

In June, a select group of readers who participated in one of our special contests won copies of THE MOURNING HOURS by Paula Treick DeBoard. It’s the story of Kirsten Hammarstrom, who hasn’t been home to her tiny corner of rural Wisconsin in years --- not since the mysterious disappearance of a local teenage girl rocked the town and shattered her family. Now, years later, a new tragedy forces Kirsten and her siblings to return home, where they must confront the devastating event that shifted the trajectory of their lives. Take a look at some of the readers' comments for more insight into this powerful tale of loyalty, betrayal and forgiveness ---  and be sure to watch out for SPOILERS!

I really enjoyed THE MOURNING HOURS a great deal!!!! It was very suspenseful and I could hardly keep myself from peeking at the end to see if Stacey's killer was ever found. The writing was good too.  So often I get turned off of a book by paragraphs full of "filler". I always get the feeling that they are trying to get to the magic number of 300 pages and that's how they do it.  DeBoard did not do that --- every word was necessary for the plot or character development and the pages just flew by.  

Thank you so much for sending THE MOURNING HOURS by Paula Treick DeBoard. I especially loved the matching bookmark. I absolutely loved the book!!! It was one of those books I tell to my friends --- "drop everything and read this book.”

It is hard to compare to other books, but if I had to choose, I would say THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE by Jenny Wingfield, as that was one I could not put down either. It was an exciting and compelling read.

The three words I would use to describe the book are compelling, suspenseful and riveting.

I would tell all of my friends about this book. I do Readers Advisory at my library (I am a librarian) so I would definitely recommend this book. I have asked Acquisitions to make sure we order copies, as I will be talking about it. I will tell them the basics of the story and leave them wondering and wanting to read it!!!

I would love to ask the author if she grew up in Wisconsin. I loved the whole atmosphere of the story and thought she really "got it" about small-town life.

And I would certainly want to read more of her books --- this first one was great. I love discovering a new author!!!

I took my copy of THE MOURNING HOURS with me on a family trip to Hawaii. I expected to read it and then to leave it there on the shelf by the pool for other tourists to enjoy. However, I REALLY enjoyed the book and did not want to part with it. I carried it back home with me and then sent it on to my sister. When I spoke with her later, she, too, really enjoyed it. I have since recommended it to a close friend. It seems like a good choice for my book club to consider. This is my type of book --- suspenseful and well written; the author has definitely found her calling.

I regret that I cannot be more specific, but I do not have the book in my hand since I have passed it on. I do think that a starting point for a discussion would be the title, since the mourning time was, in actuality, much more lengthy and not just for few; it seemed to apply to the entire town. 

I started reading THE MOURNING HOURS yesterday morning and could not put it down until I finished it last night. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the writing. The characters and the story were so true to life with some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming.I will be sharing this book with each of my book clubs.  I know that they will enjoy it also!

Kendra --- This comment contains mild SPOILERS.
I enjoyed THE MOURNING HOURS, about a Wisconsin farm family with a 17-year-old son and two younger daughters. The story is told from the perspective of the family's 9-year-old daughter, when the son's girlfriend goes missing after she has been out on a date with the son. Before long, the entire town turns against the family, believing that the son was responsible for the girl's disappearance. The pressure ultimately splits the family, with the son moving away first, then the mother and the two daughters, although the parents never divorce. Years later, when the father dies of a heart attack, the family comes back together, and the truth finally comes out. I cannot think of any book to which I could directly compare this book. I would describe the book as currently relevant, engrossing and heartbreaking. I've told all my friends about this book, that it shows that things are not always what they seem, that bullying exists in many facets of life, not just in school, that the author captures the small town feel and that a family's strength must come from within. I would read more books by this author.

Debbie --- This comment contains mild SPOILERS.
While I enjoyed THE MOURNING HOURS (and yes, would read more by this author), I felt that the narrative year 1994-1995 could have been told in fewer pages, as I kept feeling like the author was spinning her wheels to " just fill the pages." I didn't feel that the characters other than the dad and aunt were fully developed even though the book was long. I didn't get the feeling that everyone was fully supportive of Johnny, thus the tension in the home. The mother leaving was another surprise, with the assumption that it was due to the tense situation in the home, but never discussed, just alluded to. The ending was totally unexpected, which really delighted me, but not enough time was spent on explaining or delving deeper into the guilty party. I do not belong to a book club, but this book is being passed around at work and for the most part my co-workers agree with the above without my saying a thing prior to them reading it other than "this is a good book.”

Unfortunately, I found THE MOURNING HOURS did not live up to my expectations. I found the pacing extremely slow --- though the characters were fairly well fleshed out.  I found their combined actions to be unbelievable, as their characters were described initially. Had their actions been more conflicted and convincing the idea of the book would have played out more interestingly.  Unless the boy was a bit more of a troublemaker initially, I believe his family would have gone overboard to believe his actions were appropriate.  Also, the teen girl's actions were so over the top, I believe others would have already seen that she was basically a troubled girl to begin with. Finally, the police would surely have done more investigating with local residents, as she was alone and vulnerable on a dark road at night when she went missing.

The mystery was extremely bland.  I don't actually feel that the author believed her book to be a mystery.  I would suggest redoing the write up for the book and perhaps a different audience will choose to read it and enjoy it better. Perhaps this would have made a great short story, but as it was, I just could not recommend this book to anyone that I know, nor can I think of the type of reader who would really have enjoyed reading it.  Editing some of the repeated "angst" from the book might have helped too.