Publish Date: 6/9/2020
Author: Jill McCorkcle
Goodreads Summary:“Jill McCorkle has long been one of our wryest, warmest, wisest storytellers. In Hieroglyphics, she takes us on through decades, through loss, through redemption, and lands in revelation and grace. As always with McCorkle, the story feels so effortless and true that we might well miss what a high-wire act she’s performing. But make no mistake: She’s up there without a net, she never misses a step, and it’s spectacular.” —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers
Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically—lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost prematurely.
Now, after many years in Boston, they have retired in North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank’s repeated visits to Shelley’s house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d rather forget. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.
Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In her deeply layered and masterful novel, Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around us, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
How could I be only 42 pages in and be so heartbroken? Already at this point I recognized how bittersweet life really is. I felt immediately connected to the characters but longed for their everlasting life. Although their lives have tragedy, their day-to-day life seemed somewhat normal. Remembering every day occurrences and longing for them is what broke my heart so quickly. It felt like I was watching an old movie reel knowing it was about to be cut off and longing for it to keep going. I felt sad and didn’t want to continue to put myself through the sadness but knew that the characters’ lives were not really all that sad but just a normal life playing from beginning to end.
The author’s writing is so beautiful and this book is the true definition of modern literary fiction. Although there was no plot to find, this character driven book was much more than that. It’s a story of broken relationships and hardship that I felt truly compelling and heartfelt.
I whipped through the first half of the book and then things slowed down for me. I felt like the repetitiveness at that point was doing more harm than good and it’s ultimately why I ended up rating it 3 stars instead of the 4 that I believed I was going to give it at the start of my read.
This book is definitely a book I will remember for a while and I feel like it really pulled at my heart. I recommend this read for sure.