Blame, by Michelle Huneven. Published 2009 by FSG. Fiction.
For me, Blame was one of those books I enjoyed a lot when I first finished it, and then enjoyed less and less as time went by.
The story focuses on Patsy MacLemoore, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks with a drinking problem, who falls in with the privileged Sharp family in 1980s California. One night, drunk, she accidentally kills a mother and daughter; she goes to prison; she comes out. Then, for years to come (and, she anticipates, the rest of her life) she seeks redemption, first through a tentative friendship with the man whose family she killed, then through a picture-perfect marriage to the upper class man of her dreams. But nothing is what it appears.
Like I said, I enjoyed the book while I was reading it. It's a page-turner for sure, full of breathless suspense and a supposedly killer plot twist. Just to warn you, if you don't want to know what the twist is, don't read the blurb on the back of the book like I did (hint: her name is deeply ironic). But even the blurb didn't give it all away and there are surprises in store no matter what. The best part of the book for me though was watching Patsy's transformation through prison and after as she tries to put her life back together, build relationships and figure out her place in the world. Her challenges and thoughts seemed realistic and I found it easy to care about her.
The problem with Blame for me wasn't that I didn't enjoy it when I read it, but it was like cotton candy- five minutes later I was thinking about something else, and it's taken me all this time to get around to reviewing it. The truth is right now I'm working up to writing my review for Yann Martel's new book and I needed an easy one to crank out. Lame, no? Blame is a fine example of popular fiction and readers of so-called "women's fiction" and suspense lit will enjoy it. I think it would be a good choice for book clubs as well as Huneven shows a lot of insight into womens' psychology and the psychology of addiction, creates complex characters and poses some challenging moral questions about the depth and extent of accountability. For me it wasn't a masterpiece but it was entertaining and I think it would appeal to lots of readers.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.