Monday, June 01, 2009

Bonnie Groves' Talking to the Dead ~ Reviewed

Talking to the Dead
By Bonnie Groves
Published by David C. Cook
ISBN# 978-143476410
384 Pages

Back Cover:

Twenty something Kate Davis can’t seem to get this grieving-widow thing down. She’s supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead she’s camped out on her living-room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep—Is she losing her mind?

Kate’s attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an “eclectically spiritual” counselor, then to a shrink with a bad toupee, a mean-spirited exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warm hearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate’s fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past …and Kevin begins to shout.

Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on in this tender, quirky story about second chances.


Kevin and Kate were high school sweethearts dreaming of a future together. Life was great until Kate watches their dream die unexpectedly with Kevin. He’s too young to die. Kate struggles to grasp her new reality. She is hearing Kevin talk to her. How could she move on with him so near? Why couldn’t she shake this feeling? She soon realizes she needs help. Is there anyone that could really help her?

I felt for Kate as she was willing to try anything to feel normal again. Part of getting her life back on track was getting her finances in order. In the process, of getting organized she uncovers something so disturbing she can’t breathe. Who was this man she’d been married to for five years? This couldn’t be happening to her, not now.

Kate reflects “…my heart was still a box of shattered glass. And I had serious doubts that God could put it back together. Or would care to. At least the God I saw reflected in The Reverend. His was an angry God. A black and white, right and wrong sort of God…A God who’d condemned me with his ‘high beams of holiness’.” Kate was struggling in every area of her life. Who could she turn to? Who could possibly understand?

Talking to the Dead is not something I’d normally read. The cover and the title were spooky to me, but I plunged into reading this book anyway. What a great surprise I found inside; a brilliantly refreshing story of hope, healing and second chances. The author takes you on an unexpected journey so intriguing and different you can’t stop reading. Trust me you don’t want to miss this adventure. After reading this you’ll definitely be looking forward to what Bonnie Groves writes next.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent – Book Club Servant Leader

Bonus Review:

One of my favorite discoveries is a great book. Sometimes a great book makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes it makes me jealous because of the wordsmithery of the author, and sometimes it penetrates my mind and makes me think and rethink.

When I open the cover of a book I'm not sure what I'm going to find. A rare book will grab me from the first sentence and hang onto me through to the end. But occasionally the first paragraph or even the first chapter will fool me into thinking I've got a great book, but sometimes the great fizzles into mediocre or even just entertaining. Those novels always leave me disappointed and sad over the lost potential.

I am shocked that Talking to the Dead is Bonnie Grove's first novel. From the moment I began reading, I was in the story, compelled to learn the details of Kate's spiral into the depths of grief and her attempts to claw her way out of her pain. Grove writes with a sensitivity and depth that is rare. Her background in psychology and her spiritual experiences gave a richness to this novel that is both fascinating and hopeful. Grove's lyrical voice, her humor, her descriptions added layers of reality to Kate and her friends and family.

My only complaint was that I didn't feel clarity and closure within a few of Kate's relationships. But that leaves room for a follow-up novel and I'd be very okay with that.

Upon closing the book after the last words I was able to sigh wistfully, the ultimate book experience.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

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