Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: Janeology by Karen Harrington

Janeology by Karen Harrington

Published by Kunati Inc.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Be sure to check out Karen's wonderful blog, Scobberlotch, where you'll find interesting, informative and often very funny reading material! Plus, starting tomorrow April 2nd, Karen is celebrating Janeology's one-year birthday! She'll be giving away copies of her book and discussing her debut year, along with other fun posts and pictures!

Janeology is narrated by Tom Nelson, whose wife Jane, has just been convicted of drowing their two-year old son and almost killing his twin sister in the process. Tom is still struggling with the reality that his loving wife could have actually commited such a heinous act and can't even look her in the eyes when visiting her in jail. Jane was found 'not guilty' by reason of insanity, and Tom cannot understand how Jane's seemingly mild depression could have turned her into such a monster. Adding even more grief to Tom's already painful existence, the prosecution is charging Tom with child endangerment and neglect, implying that he could have and should have prevented his son's death. Tom's lawyer has found one of Jane's relatives, Mariah Hernandez, whose clairvoyance helps her adopt others memories and pasts by holding onto their cherished belongings. The novel then shifts in perspective from Tom's narration to each of Jane's many ancestors and their own harrowing tales. By showing Jane's family's history of abuse and neglect, Tom's lawyer hopes to prove that what Jane's act was the result of genetics and nothing Tom could have foreseen or prevented.

Janeology is a very deep and thought-provoking book. Although this book is fictional, there are many real-life stories of maternal infanticide, making this book as relevant as it is at times painful to read. What sets this book apart from other legal thrillers and stories of horrible atrocities, is its departure into the world of clairvoyance and mysticism. This voyage into an almost magical realm of past memories helps lessen the emotional load of such a difficult subject, and was a much-needed break from Tom's present predicament. Although each family member's story isn't too long, they are all well developed and it's easy to imagine their personalities and lives from the information provided.

From reading Karen's blog, I know that she intentionally left the ending ambiguous in order to let readers interpret it however they wish. I usually dislike when an author does this because I appreciate closure from a book once I close its pages, however in this case I found myself quite satisfied with the book's ending. I think the message is that it doesn't matter exactly how things worked out for Tom because it was what he gained from his experiences that matters most. Overall, Tom learned how to be a better father and to focus on the child who lived, as opposed to spending life mourning the child who did not.

Karen Harrington has truly written a mesmerizing and intricate first novel and I anticipate great things to come from her in the future!

BIG THANKS to Karen for sending me a copy of her book to review.


bermudaonion said...

I love Karen's blog and have had this book on my wish list for a while. I'm so glad to see it's good. Thanks for a great review.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I read Karen's blog, but unfortunately haven't yet had the chance to read her book. It sounds great. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

haven't heard of this one...but the topic sounds riveting! i'm going to check out karen's blog and put her book on my library list! thanks for the great review!

Karen Harrington said...


Thanks so much for a wonderful review. So glad you enjoyed the book.


Karen Harrington