Niles-Maine District Library


Book Review: The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard


Looking for your next great read? I would highly recommend¬†The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard! It’s emotional, well-plotted, engaging, well-constructed and suspenseful without being a thriller. What more can you ask for from a good novel? And it’s a debut novel, at that!

Most of the story takes place 16-17 years before the epilogue, which is set in 2011. So, we head back to 1994 and there we meet Kirsten Hammarstrom, 10, and her family, all of whom live on a rural Wisconsin farm. Grandpa (dad’s father’s) lives in the smaller of the two houses on the farm and Aunt Julia living just down the road. An idyllic, tranquil, laid back life. Until 18-year-old brother Johnny falls for the wrong girl and then the wrong girl goes missing, with Johnny as the prime (and only) suspect.

By setting the epilogue up in the “present day” and making the core of the novel a flashback, DeBoard is able to get away with having a very adult, mature and educated voice as 10-year-old Kirsten. At first, I thought how unbelievable the point-of-view was because no fourth grader would talk or think like that. But, because DeBoard sets it up as the 26-year-old Kirsten telling the story, she gets away with it. It also was a good “bookending” technique…the epilogue and then the last few chapters are told in Kirsten’s 2011 world…which worked well for the flow of the story.

If I had to find one flaw here it would be that even at 26, Kirsten’s storytelling voice sounds more like that of a wiser, middle-aged adult with decades of experiences under her belt. But, that is a small criticism for such a fantastic first effort.

The book is available for check out at the Niles Public Library.

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