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Among the Lesser Gods: A Novel par Margo…
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Among the Lesser Gods: A Novel (édition 2019)

par Margo Catts (Auteur)

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"For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction. "Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart." Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother's abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she's intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother's isolated cabin and wait for something-anything-to make her next choice for her. Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns-the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena's own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she's held on to and the wounds she's refused to let heal. But when the children go missing, Elena's fragile new peace is shattered. It's only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined-and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised"--… (plus d'informations)
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Titre:Among the Lesser Gods: A Novel
Auteurs:Margo Catts (Auteur)
Info:Arcade (2019), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
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Among the Lesser Gods: A Novel par Margo Catts

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Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts is an emotional novel of self-discovery, self forgiveness and redemption.

Twenty-two year old Elena Alvarez is no stranger to making mistakes that culminate with life-altering consequences. On the brink of graduating from college, she is unsure what comes next for her when her beloved grandmother offers her a safe refuge in Leadville, CO. Trying to outrun her past while planning for her future, Elena wonders if she is the best person to take care of two grieving children while their father is out on the road. Unexpectedly connecting with her charges, eleven year old Kevin and five year old Sarah, Elena's attempts to help them heal from their loss have a surprising effect on the wounds she carries from her own somewhat tragic past.

Having never been given the opportunity to deal with the defining moment of her life, Elena self-sabotages herself at every juncture. Always trying to outrun her missteps without examining the reason she makes such ill-fated decisions, Elena's latest error in judgment results in an unexpected pregnancy. She is only planning to remain in CO temporarily as she tries to decide whether or not she wants to keep her baby or give it up for adoption. While neither option feels quite right, Elena does not think she has what it takes to raise a child but will she change her mind by summer's end?

Elena is initially out of her element as she begins caring for Kevin and Sarah.  Armed with advice from her grandmother, she manages to make surprisingly sound decisions about how she and the kids spend their days. However, she feels like she is well of her depth when it comes to the messy emotions and small dramas that crop up with the children. As Elena offers helpful advice to Kevin and Sarah, she is quite shocked to discover these life lessons also apply to her. These shifts in her perception and the meaningful discussions with her grandmother are rather eye opening and prove to be quite healing. With this newfound awareness, Elena arrives at startling conclusions about some of the motivation for the choices she has made throughout her life. Armed with a fresh outlook and finally forgiving herself for the mistakes of her past, will Elena decide to keep her baby? Will she remain in Leadville?

Among the Lesser Gods is a poignant yet heartwarming novel that is quite captivating. The storyline is well-written and quite thought-provoking. The characters are richly developed and multi-faceted with relatable strengths and weaknesses. Elena is easy to relate to and it is an absolute joy watching her forgive herself for past mistakes and begin making plans for her future. The setting is absolutely perfect and Margo Catts brings both the town and its residents vibrantly to life. An utterly marvelous debut that is deeply affecting and will linger in readers' hearts and minds long after the last page is turned.
( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
"Ghosts come from bad thoughts."

Out of pure coincidence, I found myself reading two books that were similar in inspiration and themes, but with quite a different outcome and casts of characters. The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson and Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Carts. I enjoyed both, but while Henderson's is depressing and full of malicious people, this one is a source of joy. Yes, there are difficult situations, crimes and loss but there is also hope and warmth and characters that I came to love and care about, Elena being the best of them. A complex young woman with fears and insecurities. Like all of us. The common theme that links the two books is the haunting past and I certainly prefer Catts' take on the subject.

We're in 1978, in a rural town in Colorado. Elena returns to the land to help her and a family that numbers three people. A boy, Kevin, a girl, Sarah, and Paul, their widowed father whose work demands of him to be absent from his household. In the course of the story, secrets come to light, loose ends demand attention and the characters are forced to mature and face their fears and the wounds that are still open.

"My ghosts were different. They weren't made from fear. They were real and they deserved to be. I owed it to them, in fact, to think about them every day, to let them follow me and watch me and take some meager satisfaction in my failures."

Elena was only a child when her life was traumatized by a tragic accident. She has carried this burden every since and believes that she deserves nothing, that she is incapable to do good. When she decides to take care of Paul's children, she starts flourishing. She is a wonderful character, very realistic and her story is very well-structured. I could definitely understand and relate to her in some extent. She's one of those characters with whom you'd like to share a warm may of coffee and tell them everything's going to be fine.

"We're all misfits."

The book has a beautiful cast of characters. They're people who have experienced pain and loss and have survived. But instead of becoming bitter and malicious, they're kind and understanding. They form a cocoon around Elena and help her realise her abilities. Tuah, Poppy, Mindy, Leo are characters you'd want for friends and confidantes. Paul was a little difficult to deal with. He struggles to keep a balance but could use a little work on being a better father. Still, he tries and this is, ultimately, the whole point of the story. We need to try and cope against adversity and do our best.

The writing was beautiful, as well. The dialogue could have been a bit more natural, but perhaps it was a faithful depiction of the 70s colloquialisms. The descriptions of Colorado were immensely vivid and I enjoyed the references to the pop culture of the era. There is a Hawaii Five- 0 reference (naturally, I'm talking about the original TV series, not today's remake that should vanish from the face of the Earth). I mean, Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett rules and yes, I am a deeply superficial person. My favourite moments were the ones when Elena and Sarah were reading a book of Ancient Greek myths. She used it to teach them how to deal with people, how to be careful, what to avoid.

The children are at the heart of the story, present in the past and the current events. The mystery was well-written but I'd want to see more. There was much potential there, although I understand that this wasn't the focus of the novel and in any case, the end was very satisfying.

This is a debut and it is a very, very good one. I really enjoy the direction of the rural Contemporary American genre and with writers such as Catts, the future can only be bright and exciting. ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2018 |
AMONG THE LESSER GODS is a beautifully written novel and an impressive debut from Margo Catts. I found this book browsing Edelweiss a few weeks ago, and there was something about the synopsis that called out to me. I'm so glad I gave it a chance!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the story is set in 1978. The protagonist Elena Alvarez is a young woman stuck in limbo for a few reasons. She's a new college graduate with no job lined up; she's faced with an unwanted pregnancy and what she should do about it; and most of all, she's still burdened with guilt over a deadly fire she caused as a child. The perfect escape comes in the form of a summer job caring for two children in her grandmother's hometown of Leadville, Colorado.

AMONG THE LESSER GODS is a compelling, multi-layered story of family secrets, self-forgiveness, and new beginnings. Elena's experiences in the small mountain town will show her she's not alone in her quest for redemption. The writing was lovely, and I especially enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Leadville and the surrounding mountains. I could easily picture myself there. The novel wraps up with an emotional resolution as secrets from the past come to the surface. Wonderful book! 5 stars.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  bookofsecrets | Jun 27, 2017 |
Elena Alvarez has lived a troubled life. She will never forgive herself for setting a fire that killed three people when she was ten. Shortly after this incident her mother left home and cut ties to the family. Elena is now graduating from college in Los Angeles and ready for a brighter future. These plans are put on hold when she discovers that she is pregnant.

With her life in disarray, Elena goes to Colorado to stay with grandmother. Her grandmother has provided the maternal role in her life since her mother's abandonment. Elena finds temporary employment caring for a family that has recently lost their mother in a car accident. She is surprised that she is forming an attachment to the children who are eleven and five. Elena uses these experiences along with her own issues with her mother to decide the future of her unborn child.

This is a story about growing up and learning from mistakes. It also about practicing forgiveness for others and ourselves. This is a debut novel by Margo Catts. ( )
  leopolds | Jun 26, 2017 |
Among the Lesser Gods is a beautifully written debut novel by Margo Catts. The characters are so well written that I found myself really invested in their lives. It’s more than a coming of age novel – it’s a novel about a 20ish year old girl who is trying to live her life based on past mistakes instead of trying to figure out the best path for her to follow in her future.

Elena has just graduated from college and has no idea what to do next. Her choices are all being made based on her younger years when she set a deadly fire, when her mother abandoned her and when her father started to distance himself from her. She made a lot of unwise decisions in college and now finds that she is pregnant with no plans for the future. Her grandmother offers her a place to stay in a small town in Colorado where she starts taking care of two young children who have recently lost their mother. Taking care of the children lead her to examine her life and her reasons for the decisions that she’s made and to start making plans for her future.

This book started a little slow but I quickly got pulled into Elena’s life and problems. It’s a beautiful well written novel about forgiving yourself and learning to move on in your life. It’s also a story about love and redemption and family. I look forward to future books from this author.

Thanks to the author for a copy of this book through TLC tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  susan0316 | Jun 11, 2017 |
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"For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction. "Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart." Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother's abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she's intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother's isolated cabin and wait for something-anything-to make her next choice for her. Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns-the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena's own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she's held on to and the wounds she's refused to let heal. But when the children go missing, Elena's fragile new peace is shattered. It's only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined-and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised"--

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