Book Review - Bethlehem by Karen Kelly
The first thing that struck me about this book was the cover. I can’t help it, I definitely judge books by the cover. I figure if the publisher is willing to spend money on a good cover, then they have confidence that the book is going to sell well. Is it a flawed approach? Absolutely. But I have to use whatever methods I can to narrow down what books I read - there are so many books and so little time! I received this book, unsolicited, in the mail and I immediately contacted the publicist about doing a review and author interview. I didn’t even read the plot, I was so enamored with the cover. I was warned that it was a “slow burn” but I didn’t find that to be the case at all!
Bethlehem is about two closely knit families in Bethlehem, PA. The two patriarchs were best friends and their kids grew up together. The book jumps back and forth in time from the 1960s to the 1920s, and in the process we meet three generations of The Parrish Family and the Collier Family. There are several family secrets that reveal themselves throughout the book while one woman tries to get to know her mother-in-law as she tries to find her place in the family and the ancestral home.
Gosh, as I tried to summarize the book I realized how complex the story was. Yet, it didn’t seem complex as I was reading it. I thought Karen Kelly did a great job telling this large tale in a rather short book (just 288 pages.) I was hooked by the story right away and was invested in the characters almost from the start. I had a little trouble keeping the characters straight as many of them have the same names as their fathers or grandmothers and often used nicknames. Luckily, there is a family tree at the beginning to help readers keep them straight.