The Keening by A. La Faye
224 Pages (Paperback)
April 13, 2010
Born into a family with artistry in their fingers, Lyza laments that her only talent is carving letters into wood. That is until her life is turned upside down when her mother succumbs to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which is devastating their small coastal town in Maine. With her mother gone, Lyza must protect her eccentric father, who runs the risk of being committed, especially now that he claims he’s waiting for the return of his dead wife. Can Lyza save her father and find her own path in the process?
Starting this story I was expecting to read about the terrors of living during the huge influenza epidemic. I was expecting to feel sad every other page, to have more and more characters whom I’ve come to love die. This book was not like that at all. Yes, this is a historical fiction novel that takes pace during that time, but it does not play as big of a role as expected. Characters do die in the story, but that is not the basis of the story. The plot follows Lyza as she is discovering new, unbelievable things about her life while trying to care for and protect her father after the death of her mother.
Lyza’s pater (pater =father, mater= mother > this took me a while to understand) is not normal. He spends most of his time carving realistic faces into anything available. Most days he forgets to eat, and he wouldn’t even get dressed if not for the constant reminder from Lyza’s mother. Lyza’s mother’s family is dead set on committing him somewhere, but Lyza and her mother would never let that happen. But when Lyza’s mater is gone, she is left with the bulky task of protecting him. Soon she will find out that maybe Pater isn’t crazy, he just sees more than everyone else. Maybe she does too…
I really enjoyed this story. The tone of the narrator was much more adult, but that was expected considering the time period it takes place in. There was something very special about this novel, I’m not exactly sure what. I was also very impressed with the writing itself. There was a sort of paranormal aspect to this story, yet I wouldn’t group this book with other novels with the same type of aspect. It was so much different than others. The paranormal plot didn’t seem paranormal. That probably doesn’t make sense… in other words, it didn’t seem like it was made up. It seemed like that it very well could be something some people live with. I know that is vague, but I don’t want to give the plot away.
When I was younger, all I used to read were historical fiction novels. My two favorite books growing up were The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Fever 1793, so that could be a big reason why I enjoyed this so much. If you enjoy historical fiction novels, I highly recommend this one.