The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

blog“Leah is living in Queens with a possessive husband she doesn’t love and a long list of unfulfilled ambitions, when she’s jolted from a thick ennui by a call from the past. Her beloved former boss and friend, Judy, has died in a car accident and left Leah her most prized possession and, as it turns out, the instrument of Judy’s death: a red sports car.”

The Red Car is a novel of self-discovery and realization, that follows Leah’s experiences upon returning to San Francisco when she learns of the death of her former mentor. She re-visits her old life in contemplation of where her life took a turn to lead her to where she presently found herself. In many ways, she has accepted her circumstances and her unhappy marriage, however Judy’s death shakes her into looking at her past, and at what the possibilities are for the future.

While I thoroughly enjoy stories of personal journeys, this particular one left me slightly confused by my reading experience. The protagonist, Leah, is incredibly insecure, and her internal dialogue is sad and at times heartbreaking. Even though she is not a particularly sympathetic character, I felt somewhat interested in learning about her and following her progress. However, rather than a story of self-discovery, this reads like a novel of odd circumstances and random events that happen to her, and her choices and behavior is baffling. One interesting aspect was the experience of viewing the sad way a life unfolds when an individual is so consumed by negativity, insecurity and the belief they are not good enough or worth something. I also liked the simple and straightforward writing style. Overall it felt very disconnected and in the end was quite forgettable.

*ARC provided by NetGalley. Publication date: October 11, 2016.

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