Back Before Dark by Sharon Arms Doucet (New American Library, 2004)

imageDB - Back Before Dark by Sharon Arms Doucet (New American Library, 2004)More...I should preface this review by saying right off the bat that this book definitely appeals primarily to the female variety (even featuring a conversation guide at the end by Nal Accent, a group that focuses on novels with “subjects close to a woman’s heart). After her father abruptly commits suicide, Frannie Aldren Broussard must leave the comfort and familiarity of her life in the Louisiana bayou in search of the truth and the burden her father suffered. While searching for answers to questions about her father Frannie begins to question her life as well and embarks on an unexpected journey of her true self.

Back Before Dark is a first-time venture into adult fiction for author Doucet, having written only children’s novels previously. A lot of the wording Doucet uses in her novel reflects the imaginative, illustrative, and vibrant thinking necessary to captivate her younger readers. In the same instance, I sense an unease with the way adults really converse and this lack of realistic dialogue left me disengaged with the characters. If the reader is not really invested in what happens to the characters, what compels the reader to turn the page? Doucet seems to make no real effort in differentiating the characters through dialogue or action either, increasing my disconnection with the book. I get the sense that Doucet possesses a vast knowledge of Southern and Cajun culture (having lived in Louisiana for most of her life), Geology, and Anthropology, all subjects of which she mostly skimmed the surface. I appreciated this choice however, not really wandering from the plotline in order to lecture us on a certain Cajun tradition and where it originated. It seems like Doucet has an interesting history to tell, unfortunately I should be more captivated by the character and not the author.

I think the book clearly represents an experimental effort on Doucet’s part, but I hope she continues to develop her skills in adult writing as some nice elements made an occasional appearance. Something’s working for her, because I did locate the novel on a bookshelf featuring recently popular books amongst customers. However, for me, not a novel that will particularly make a lasting impression or be listed as one of those “great finds” you happen across in a used book store.

4.5 / 10

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