Monday, February 7, 2011

Review of Edges by Léna Roy

In December, I told you how much I wanted Léna Roy’s debut novel, EDGES. It came to my local bookstore before Christmas and I snatched it up, but I didn’t want to read it after late nights staying up with family or between stops on the holiday tour. I had the right day in mind, one with hours of uninterrupted reading.

I settled down in the waiting room of the dentist’s office while my husband had a wisdom tooth removed. I’d read the first couple chapters before Christmas because I couldn’t wait (it was like trying to peek at your Christmas presents when you were a kid), but I started back at the beginning. I’m a slow reader, and it took me the entire appointment, but I didn’t move from my chair except to mute the television (Ava’s voice was starting to come out like the squeaky ones on kids’ cartoons). I’m an emotional reader, but I don’t like to cry in public. Edges had me tearing up without shame, right there in the waiting room.

Edges opens with seventeen-year-old Luke settling into a trailer outside the Moonflower Motel in Moab, Utah, his home since he fled New York City and his alcoholic father. He moved west alone and cobbled together a family headed by Clare and Jim, the Moonflower’s owners. The story shifts between Luke’s present, New York in the past when Frank and Luke cope with the death of Luke’s mother, and New York in the present when Jim and Clare’s daughter Ava, a shiny new college student, attends Alcoholics Anonymous and meets Frank. A journey of forgiveness and redemption brings the characters together, but the novel never feels contrived. I believed it was possible for lives to intertwine and become stronger together.

I admired Léna’s unflinching portrayal of addiction. In college, a dear friend attended Alcoholics Anonymous and told me the most difficult thing about being sober was that she no longer had something to orient her day. Though she was about Ava’s age, drinking had been the objective of each day, and it was difficult to get through without another. I see that struggle truthfully and painfully portrayed in Ava, and I loved Ava for her strength and selflessness, even when it would be easy to focus only on her own recovery. Families torn by alcoholism are stitched back together, but Edges doesn’t ignore the scars that will remain, an awareness that makes the novel more moving. 

Addiction I was okay with, but I’ll admit, at first I was hesitant about the mystical elements in the book. There was never once a reason to roll my eyes; instead, I respected the beliefs and storyline because I respected the characters. Léna, unlike many authors I’ve read, did not use mystic events to add drama and mystery to the plot. Her novel focuses on characters the reader can love, and because the mysticism is part of the characters’ lives, I don’t doubt the novel’s sincerity. 

Lastly, the setting. There are books that make you want to pack your bags and travel. And there are books that bring the setting to you. Edges is both.

“Luke let Tangerine climb up the cable first. He was panting by the time he got to the top. The sun’s angle on the earth deepened the color of the rocks to a dark watermelon. The drop into the canyons was spellbinding. The world was vast, unknowable.”

The Utah landscape, both dangerous and comforting, is an apt canvas for the novel’s relationships. Few first novels find that delicate symbiosis.

I enthusiastically recommend Edges, an able debut of an author who, I know, will give us many years of enjoyable stories. If you live in Virginia and would like to meet Léna and get your copy of Edges signed, you can join me in line at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, on March 22 at 6:30pm. 


  1. I can't wait to read it! I trust your judgement in all things printed.

  2. This sounds like another book to add to my "must read" list ... Thanks for a great (that is, well written and honest) review. As an adult, I am finding that I seem to prefer many of the YA novels out there, but there are so many coming out all the time, it is good to find some reviews that help me choose my reading list.

  3. I'm glad the review helped. I hope you love Edges as much as I did.