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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Fragments of Light by Michele Phoenix

Updated: Aug 6, 2020

Two story lines are separated by decades; I found myself wanting more character development in both.

Michele Phoenix's Fragments of Light offers glimpses of D-Day. Cal is an American paratrooper dropped off course who must rely on the kindness of French townspeople for his survival. When the occupying Germans return, he aims to protect the French in turn.

In the present day, Ceelie has just finished chemotherapy following a double mastectomy. She rings the bell at the finish of treatment and in the car immediately afterward, Nate, her husband of 24 years, cruelly abandons her. "I'm done," he simply says. Characters flip out in books and people panic in real life, but in this book he hasn't had time to build up our interest or loyalty, so he has simply become the weak, unsympathetic guy causing our girl heartache and trouble.

Then he comes back. (Who does this guy think he is?) He doesn't have a lot of answers as to what led to his implosion of their marriage, but he swears he's not really like that, and that Ceelie should trust him again. Honestly, all we've seen Nate do is leave our vulnerable protagonist, and in a way I was hoping for a painful comeuppance for him, but ALAS.

Meanwhile Darlene, a friend Ceelie made through breast cancer treatment, is about to enter hospice and has inconveniently decided that she would now like to find the father who abandoned (more abandonment!) her mother and herself when she was an infant after World War II. Ceelie takes on this mission, to the exclusion of her own recovery (she mentions fatigue and incision pain, and she just finished chemotherapy) as well as to the potential detriment of her job (she has not been working lately and had planned to return to her job as a reporter now, but she continues taking leaves of absence and making excuses about postponing her return, insisting on pursuing Darlene's likely wild goose chase). I was desperate for Ceelie to listen to her own needs and take care of herself a little bit throughout much of this.

The people Ceelie stumbles across conveniently know the little key information that exists regarding Darlene's father, and Ceelie is able to doggedly get to some answers. They aren't necessarily satisfying, but they offer some closure.

There's some essential introspection on Ceelie's part, but I wished for a lot more--as well as a more believable connection between Nate and Ceelie and more showing, less telling in regards to emotions and angst.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

What did you think?

This book is generally very well received, so my bossy desire for more character development and motivation, etc., seems to put me in the minority. The combination of the WWII setting and my mixed feelings remind me a little bit of Sarah's Key, which is loved by many but was just not for me.


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