Solitaire

I just finished Kelley
Eskridge’s
debut novel Solitaire. As full
disclosure, I’ve been friends with Kelley for a decade and have
personally been quite smitten with her for many years. I say to her
without irony, sarcasm or humor that she is my heroine and I really
couldn’t be more sincere. That said, onward. The book is very very
good. It started like one sort of book and surprised me by becoming
another. It also never became a mystery, when it seemed like that was
the standard way to go. She was assured enough not to answer every
question, which I liked. In fact, huge freaking things are left
unsaid, not to leave a hook for a sequel but because that’s how life
is. There was a deep lack of sentimentality, which made it more
touching emotionally to me. I cared what happened, and how the
protagonist dealt with the damage of her shattered life, without ever
feeling like I was having my emotional puppet strings yanked. I appreciated
the lack of a storybook moment where everything was made good. The
book ends conclusively with much damage still in evidence. I read it a
little like a J. G. Ballard disaster novel on a personal level. Rather
than fixing what is wrong, the book is about accepting what is
wrong. I recommend this quite highly. As a weird after-moment, the
book was over and I was going to close it and put it up when a page
flapped to the acknowledgements page, one after the last story
page. In a glance, I was able to pick out my name (and my wife’s) off
the list, the way you can hear your own name through the noise of a
crowd. I had no idea we were cited, and I’m delighted to have it
associated with such a good book. And to close out the personal
comments about Kelley, in my life she’s the closest I have to a
Winston Wolf. If there is a problem that seems unsolvable by my means,
the way to make it right is to ask Kelley for help.