Win the book I’m still raving about: ‘How To Love An American Man’

Back in the dark ages — okay, April
I read a book that completely blew me away: Kristine Gasbarre’s How To Love An American Man.

I’ve done some thinking about why the book resonated so completely with me, and the conclusion I’ve reached is thus: Krissy is a real person who wrote a real story about her real relationships with her family, especially her grandparents, and it was such a refreshing change to read about a woman close to my age grappling with the same issues as me: searching for and keeping love; maintaining closeness as a family; growing up and moving on, but still wanting to stay close to those who have come to define you.

I was so moved by How To Love An American Man that I immediately emailed Krissy to tell her, in no uncertain terms, that I wanted to be her best friend. I’ve been known to write gushy fangirl letters from time to time, and this one was no different — and color me thrilled when Krissy wrote back. It’s rare that you meet you someone so talented and kind — and so deserving of success. We met in New York City during this year’s Book Blogger Convention and I adored her as much in person as I had through both her memoir and letters.

Basically, she inspires me — and her book inspires me. So I want to share it with all of you. I will buy one copy of How To Love An American Man for a winner randomly chosen from comments on this post, and all you have to do is tell me this: What memory of your grandparents will you never forget? (If you don’t have grandparent recollections to share, no worries; feel free to leave another family memory.)

UPDATE: Krissy has graciously offered to send her book to two winners, so I’m extending the giveaway to 12 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Sept. 6. I’ll randomly choose two winners from the comments on this post and email them.

UPDATE on Sept. 6: Congratulations to Mona and Laura Kay, our randomly-selected winners! Ladies, I’ll be emailing you shortly for your addresses.

BBAW: Forgotten Treasures – ‘The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets’

In keeping with our Book Blogger Appreciation Week festivities through Friday, today’s prompt asks us to mention a book we feel hasn’t gotten the exposure it ought — whether it be a classic, should-have-read-in-school novel or contemporary fiction that hasn’t found the audience it deserves.

So I’m going to tell you about a book, y’all.

It’s not that you haven’t heard me wax on ad nauseum about this one before. Eva Rice’s The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets was one of my favorite reads of 2009, and easily wormed its way into my heart and mind, practically ruining me for other books.

As I said in my review last December,

No novel in recent memory has enchanted me more than Eva Rice’s The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets. In fact, it’s going to be hard to even try and review it objectively — I just thought it was that magical, exciting, and engrossing, and if I could build a time machine and travel back to a time in which I hadn’t read this book, I’d be packing my suitcase and returning to last week, friends — let’s experience this novel all over again!

It’s the story of Penelope Wallace, a young woman growing up in post-war London who struggles mightly under the shadow of her beautiful mother — a woman who once knew the world was her oyster. After her father’s death in the war, Talitha retreats further into herself while her eccentricities compound. Never feeling good enough to impress her mother, Penelope loses herself in the music of Johnnie Ray, an American rock singer, as their once-immaculate, now-crumbling home disintegrates around them.

Penelope is waiting for a bus the day she meets Charlotte Ferris, a charismatic teen who immediately befriends Penelope and drags her to tea with her Aunt Clare. It’s there that’s introduced to an entirely new world: one of wealth, boredom and, as she meets Harry, Charlotte’s brother, infatuation. And maybe love.

Anything I crave in a novel was here — in spades. Dynamic, interesting and well-developed characters. Romance and a male lead with whom I became completely enamored, even if he was a little . . . unusual. Gorgeous, lush and inviting scenery — and Milton Magna, their old castle, which had a life of its own (and happened to be in England, my favorite place). A fast-paced, emotional plot that kept me engaged from page one. Realistic, funny dialogue. A love affair with music and devotion to a singer with which I could immediately and directly relate.

Yes, friends, The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets was phenomenal. Through everything, I think of it as “my book” — and just yesterday, I got a new comment on my review from someone who felt the same way. I’m not one to brag, but I’ve converted a few folks on this one — including Emily from Emily And Her Little Pink Notes, and my baby sister.

I don’t know if it’s a book for everyone, but it was definitely a book for me. In fact, if ever I felt like a novel had been written with my specific interests in mind, it’s Eva Rice’s. If it sounds like there’s something here for you, please don’t hesitate to pick it up. Though I was initially drawn in by the cover, it’s what happened between the pages that kept me captivated and gushing about it . . . all these months later.

Check out more reviews on LibraryThing and Goodreads, then add it to your wishlist. If you’re completely captivated and have to have it now, add it to your cart at the Book Depository (free shipping!), Amazon (where it’s currently bargain priced at $4.48!), Powell’s or indiebound.