Sarah Ockler Fixing Delilah
320 pp. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Little, Brown and Company). 2010 ISBN: 9780316052092
Summary (From the publisher): “We all long for what could have been.”
Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart.
She used to be a good student but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her friends are drifting away. Her ‘boyfriend’ isn’t a boyfriend. Her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided the Hannaford family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, runs in the family.
When Delilah must spend the summer helping to settle her estranged grandmother’s estate, she’s suddenly confronted by her family’s painful past. Faced with questions that cannot be ignored and secrets that threaten to burst free, Delilah begins to doubt all that she’s ever known to be true.
Rich with humor and emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love and self-discovery – as Delilah comes to realize that even the most shattered relationships can be pieced back together again.
Fixing Delilah is a charming, stay up too late to finish, wonderful book. I read this as part of The Contemps Challenge and because I really enjoyed Sarah’s debut Twenty Boy Summer.
Sarah has a knack for creating relatable characters. Thankfully, I have a really close relationship with my mom. I grew up knowing I could come home from school and gush to my mom about my latest crush or lay my head in her lap and cry over whatever was upsetting me. This isn’t the case for Delilah, but I could still empathize with her. Actually, there were plenty of times that I wanted to reach out and comfort Delilah. She reminded me of some of my students. My book club chose this, and when we met to discuss it, one of the girls told me that she had a difficult time reading it because she has a similar relationship with her mom. On the flip side, she also told me that reading Delilah’s story was comforting. Mothers and daughters should definitely read this together. I plan on getting my mom a copy 🙂
In my reviews I usually focus on characters, but I really want to talk about the setting of Fixing Delilah. Delilah has to return to the small town where she spent her childhood, Red Falls. The town is full of quirky characters, like the lady who creates sweaters and clothes from shedded fur (yep, definitely quirky…). There’s the coffee house where local bands play and Delilah makes some friends, which is a first for her. I liked reading scenes in the coffee house because it reminded me of the place I went to in college called Kaya Coffee & Tea Co. Nice memories 🙂 The best aspect of the setting is that Red Falls is on the water. The water imagery Sarah creates is beautiful, and I’m not just talking about literal water. Unfortunately, both of my copies of Fixing Delilah are with students right now, so I can’t include a couple examples. But trust me, the water motifs are superb!
This part isn’t exactly book review-ish, but it’s worth mentioning. When I recommended to my book club that we read Fixing Delilah I contacted Sarah asking if she’d be interested in participating in a Q&A of some sort with us. I was really excited when she responded enthusiastically and offered to do a phone chat with my group! The day of our meeting, we discussed the book first and then about half-way through Sarah called. The girls asked tons of questions and received thoughtful replies. We talked about writing and becoming an author, character development, Sarah’s next book, etc. I know the girls enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you, Sarah, for making the experience of reading Fixing Delilah that much better!