The Call
by Yannick Murphy

HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN 978-0-062-02314-8.
Reviewed by Trilla Pando
Posted on 08/31/2011

Fiction: Literary

The Call called me, only faintly at first with its terse, log-like entries. So this is going to be a book about a country vet who delivers goats, sews up a horse that listens to classical music, and relates to a zebra? It is. And more.

I've been inside the head of David Appleton and the heart of the Appleton family, a heart that holds lots of love and laughter, but is also pulled, twisted, and strained. Murphy knows about families and knows how to tell their stories—very well. Despite its unusual abrupt style, she brings the Appleton family fully to life, not only David and Jen, but the three children. Nights are cold; snow falls. Parents bicker. Children come out with the unexpected. Family dinners are so delicious, that I flipped to the back vainly hoping for recipes. Ah, the pork chops! Oh, the gypsy soup. Outside of the household, Murphy has captured many of the small town's 600 quirky residents in brief but colorful sketches. She has an eye; she has an ear; she has a true voice.

I quickly answered the call of the book and sank into full-time reading. Then, the tragic accident that almost rends the family took me with a jolt. It mirrored a decades-old episode in my own family's journey so closely and clearly, that I almost shut the book. But I persevered. Glad I did. And I can testify that account of the Appletons' suffering is pinpoint accurate.

A fine book. How fine? I immediately ordered one of Murphy's children's books for my five-year-old granddaughter. Now I'm off to make gypsy soup.

The author of five previous novels, Yannick Murphy has won many awards including one from the National Endowment for the Arts. Murphy writes short stories and children's books as well as novels. "In a Bear's Eye" appeared in the 2007 O'Henry Prize Stories. She shares her home in Vermont with her husband, who is a veterinarian, and their children. Visit her website.

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