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The Embers    by Hyatt Bass order for
by Hyatt Bass
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Kelly Thunstrom

You know a book has you right where it wants you when you are anxious to get through your daily routine to curl up with it. That is The Embers in a nutshell. What is so enthralling about the book, however, is not what happens. The plot takes a back seat to the four main characters. The Embers is a character study, plain and simple.

I am certainly not giving anything away by stating that by page two, the reader knows that one of the four members of the Ascher family is getting married and another has died. Bass alternately juxtaposes the time periods of 1993 and 2007 to tell the stories of the wedding planning and the death. There is very little surprise in the novel and a reader is not waiting on the edge of the seat to find out what happens. We already know what is around the corner.

The reader grows to care about each member of the Ascher family, even through all of their faults (and believe me ... there are many). I felt happiness for Emily Ascher as her wedding was approaching, but tremendous sadness for Thomas Ascher as his death was imminent.

It is hard to believe that this is the debut novel of Hyatt Bass. The prose is at times beautiful and heartwrenching, the cause of laughter and tears. Spend a few days with the Ascher family, and you may appreciate your own just a little bit more.

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