Friday, April 17, 2009

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

This was another one of our Book Club picks.

In A Map of the World, the lives of the main characters, Howard and Alice Goodheart, are shattered when their neighbor’s young daughter, Lizzy, slips out of the Goodheart’s home on Alice’s watch. When the Alice finds Lizzy floating facedown in the family pond, she becomes hysterical and plunges into a deep depression.

The Goodheart’s have always been viewed as outsiders in their small community. After the tragic drowning of Lizzy, rumors start to fly and soon Alice finds herself falsely accused of sexually abusing several children at the school where she is employed as the school nurse.

The story focuses on Alice’s emotional state as she processes her guilt related to Lizzy’s death and awaits her trial in jail.

Discussion of this book sparked some interesting dialogue about how we as a society assign a stigma to “the accused” – whether or not they are ultimately proven guilty. Another conversation centered on the idea that the type of tragic accident that sparked Alice’s downward spiral could happen to anyone.

It's a little bit depressing, but I enjoyed the book.

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