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YA book review — The Keening by A. LaFaye

The Keening by A. LaFaye15 year old Lyza loves her small reclusive family. Her mother is estranged from her family and her father is thought to be insane. Lyza does what any girl does, she studies, she has a part time job and she wonders about her future.

The story takes place in a small coastal village during the 1918 influenza epidemic. Funeral parades past Lyza’s family home are a daily occurrence. When her mother falls fatally ill with the disease, Lyza begins a quest to save her father from the people who wish to place him in a work house for the mentally insane. Along the way, she discovers she is more like her parents than she ever realized.

I love a good historical novel. Learning about real events while immersed in a fictional novel adds another layer of depth to story which makes history tantalizing accessible to me as a reader. As a fictional novel, this one falls far short.

The premise of this novel is unique and unusual. I had high hopes for an action packed and suspense-filled adventure. Here, too, I was disappointed. Lyza spends a majority of the book immersed in her own thoughts. Very little actually happens, action-wise.

The author was aiming for a dream-like quality in her prose, which she was successful in achieving. However, I feel the novel suffered for it. I would have liked to see a better balance between the inner and outer Lyza as she discovers her place in the world with the advent of her beloved mother’s untimely death.