Shadow TagPaperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 1, 2011)
When Irene America discovers that her artist husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box. There she records the truth about her life and marriage, while turning her Red Diary—hidden where Gil will find it—into a manipulative charade. As Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children, their home becomes a place of increasing violence and secrecy. And Irene drifts into alcoholism, moving ever closer to the ultimate destruction of a relationship filled with shadowy need and strange ironies.
Alternating between Irene’s twin journals and an unflinching third-person narrative, Louise Erdrich’s Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and the anatomy of one family’s struggle for survival and redemption.
My take on the book: I love reading a book that makes my life and marriage seem perfect. The marriage in this novel was dysfunctional, destructive, unhealthy, selfish and as Irene said earlier in the book it was unforgiving on how her and Gil damaged the children. The entire book was about their unhealthy marriage.
This book is a quick read but the writing haunted me when I put the book down. It is very well written by author Louise Erdrich. She crafted and painted a very full novel of life and marriage when it goes bad. I loved the details and the though process of Gil, the artist. Even though I didn't see his work I could picture his art and his passion for his art throughout this novel. His career and his life was all about painting his wife. When that desire was gone so was he.
Irene was cut from the same cloth as her husband. She didn't like to admit this but she used it to hurt her husband which in turn hurt herself and their children. I was rooting for her until the end of the book when the twist took her from those who needed her the most, her children. She gave and cared for them and then she let it all go. I can see why she did this. Her and her husband had to be together, they were one.
As sad and depressing as this novel was, I would love to read more about the children as they grow up. A good novel doesn't tell you all, you have to use your mind to think about what happens next. This book left me doing just that. Sometimes you have to just tell yourself, this is a work of fiction, it isn't real, but is it? I grew up in dysfunction and there was a lot written here that I could relate to from my past. The author knew what to write to capture such a destruction in a marriage and the consequences it brings to the children involved.
This book isn't a quick-read, chick flick. It is a very dark, well written and leaves your mind to wander and to think about all the "what ifs" and "what's next". This is my first book by this author. I'm very curious now as to her other writings.