I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
on November 1st 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Source: the author
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Six women. One man. Seven secrets. One could ruin them all.
Kit is a twenty-five-year-old archaeology undergrad, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. Life seems purposeless. But if she could track down her father, Roger, maybe her perspective would change.
The only problem—Roger is as rotten as the decomposing oranges in her back yard according to the women in her life: Ailish, her mother—an English literature professor who communicates in quotes and clichés, and who still hasn’t learned how to express emotion on her face; Ivy, her half-sister—a depressed archaeologist, with a slight case of nymphomania who fled to America after a divorce to become a waitress; and Eleanor, Ivy’s mother—a pediatric surgeon who embellishes her feelings with medical jargon, and named her daughter after “Intravenous.”
Against all three women’s wishes, Kit decides to find Roger.
Enter a sister Kit never knew about.
But everyone else did.
This book is truly about perspective. One person’s story does not always match up perfectly with someone else’s point of view, although in real life we don’t have the luxury to take a peek inside everyone’s brain. On more than one occasion I was determined to hate a character, simply because I was told to, but when I had a chance to hear their side of things, I was instantly swayed. It’s enough to make you second guess your own preconceptions about the people in your life.
Bell speaks of real life. She doesn’t paint it in a pretty light, she doesn’t gloss over the scenes that will make you uncomfortable; picking noses, body odor, awkward sex, bodily functions and most importantly, making mistakes. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s real. It made me feel closer to the characters to know that they are as imperfect as I am.
There are multiple POVs, though some are more dominant than others. It weaves back and forth primarily between Kit and Ivy, half sisters living half a world away. Kit’s voice was the hardest for me to adjust to. It was stilted, and rough. She uses irregular similes to describe the world around her, such as the chewing of bread sounding like the clacking of wood on wood. While she has a gruff exterior, by the end of the story I found that she was the one I will miss the most. Ivy seemed almost the opposite of Kit in the beginning. She is lost and at odds with her life, living in Seattle after a failed marriage. I had instantly felt a connection with her, but as the book wears on, you start to see the cracks in her facade, the depth to which the damage runs.
Most of the POVs are female, including Kit’s mother Ailish and Ivy’s mother Eleanor. There is, however, also Brian. His voice irked me, since it is implied that he is American, but his chapters are riddled with Australian slang, just as the others are. Most of the story takes place in Melbourne, Australia, but aside from the slang, it could have been set anywhere. There wasn’t anything distinctly foreign to the descriptions or setting, so while I couldn’t visualize myself being in the southern hemisphere, it also makes it very easy for anyone to relate to. It could very well have taken place in my own back yard.
Bitter Like Orange Peel is a story about the imperfect love between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends. It is about a group of women and the fleeting men in their lives. It isn’t perfect, and it feels incomplete, but that is what I loved about it. Bitter is an appropriate word for the title, but I’m trying to take something sweet out of the story as well. Highly recommend.
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Choice 2: Paperback copies of my Writing in a Nutshell Series (three pocket-sized writing craft books)
Choice 3: Paperback copies of my poetry books: Muted, Fabric and
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