Synopsis: To the medical world, I was a host body, surviving only to bring a new life into the world. And while I wanted to die more than anything in the world, I never wanted this. No, I never wanted to cease to exist. This was the worst death of all.”
Jude Black lives in that in-between, twilight place teetering on death but clinging to life in order to bring her baby into this world. Only she knows the circumstances surrounding her mysterious fall off the bluff that landed her in the hospital being kept alive by medical intervention. Only she knows who the father of her baby is. In this poignantly crafted literary novel, the mystery unfolds and the suspense builds as the consequences of Jude’s decisions threaten to reveal everyone’s deceptions, even her own. BLUFF offers a sensitive look at essential questions such as the value of human life, the consciousness of those in a coma and the morality of terminating life support. At the core is the story of a tragically misunderstood woman who finds peace, acceptance, understanding and even love on her deathbed.
Damn. Yeah, that’s the first word that came to my mind when I finished this book. …And when I was in the middle of it. …And when I started it.
I honestly cannot begin to tell you how much I absolutely adore this book. The only thing I can possibly pick at is a few errors in grammar/punctuation, but they didn’t hinder my reading at all, and, truth be, I don’t even remember what the errors where, I just know I saw them! So… I have nothing to pick at. I have nothing bad to say about this book. On with all the good things I can say!
This is the first book I’ve read in which the main character is in such a state that only memories, letters, and an unheard/unseen presence, her spirit, remains. I need to read more like this! I’m serious, do you have any suggestions?
That being said, I wondered how close I’d be able to get to the comatose Jude. Ah, such thoughts seem trivial now… I definitely feel close to her, closer than I feel to any of the other characters. I absolutely love her and, as I delved deeper into the novel, I kept hoping she’d come to peace as Lenore Skomal promised in the synopsis.
She didn’t disappoint. I cried several times throughout this book, I had to gasp for air pretty much every time I opened it up, but I think my reaction to the ending was hilarious. I blinked, stared at my Kindle for about five minutes, and then asked an empty house, “Is that it?” No, no, not because I feel anything was left out, left unanswered. *shrugs* I just want more. I was not ready for this book to end; I truly wanted to hold on for a little while longer, even though I wished Jude peace and an ultimate end. I had very conflicting emotions and I’m still reeling!
I’m not going to go over all the characters, but I will talk about a few of them. First, I should mention that there are quite a few characters from both the past and present on the ride, but Skomal does a fabulous job with them and I never once had to pause and wonder who the hell I was reading about. The viewpoint does change often, but I love the way it’s done and I think the frequent changes prevented me from growing bored with any of the characters.
I’ve already spoken about how much I love Jude, so I’ll move on to her best friend, Frances.
I didn’t care for her. At all. When I was first introduced to her, I was neutral…that went downhill fast. She’s very eager to adopt Jude’s baby once she learns it’s healthy. I realise that Jude’s case is all but hopeless while the baby’s is not, so obviously, as the synopsis says, she’s just there to serve as a host body until she comes to term. I get it. For me, Frances was just a bit too eager. As we learned her near obsession with adopting the child was only growing from what was already there, I even became suspicious and wondered if she had anything to do with Jude’s fall. Yes, yes, I know. She couldn’t know that the baby wouldn’t be hurt, but still… I’m no stranger to just how obsessive and mad a person can get, so I thought perhaps she’d snapped that day and, without a thought to the one thing she couldn’t stop thinking about, she shoved her best friend off the bluff. My dislike for her only grew as the story progressed, as she was revealed more and more.
Well, onto the next character.
April, Jude’s sister. I liked her. Yes, she’s vain and quite rude, but I liked her for some reason. I actually began to wonder if this is due to the fact that she was the only one who could stop Frances from getting what she wanted. …Man, I really disliked her. Anyway, I think it’s because April stood up for herself. Frances did too, but I’ve already gone over that. As I went on, I began to like April more and more as she realised she’d simply been a pawn to her mother, as she seemed to peek out of her own little world. Frances thought April didn’t care about the baby at all, that she only wanted to take custody in order to spite her; I actually agreed at first, and I had to question if I’d rather someone who didn’t care get the baby, or I’d rather someone I didn’t like get it. Truth is, though, by the end, I didn’t think Frances would make a good mom at all. Overall, I liked April and I’m glad she, in her own way, found peace.
Everyone in this book is damned in some way. We all come from something, we all have a past, and I was overjoyed to see even the exteriorly “perfect” characters had things to hide, had pieces to pick up.
That leads me to the final character I wish to talk about.
Gay, Jude’s mother. Wow. She was…well, she was definitely someone a person, depending on their stance, could grow to either love or hate very quickly. I acknowledge that she stood up for what she believed in, she certainly had no doubts about what she was doing/saying, she knew what she wanted. That being said, Gay was a woman who used one daughter, an almost clone at the time, against the other. She played April like a violin and she used her as just another weapon in her arsenal against Jude. She really wanted to hurt Jude. She used everything she could. Jude’s sexuality, her sister, and nothing Jude ever did was good enough.
Well… I suppose that’s about it. I loved the writing style, I loved everything about this novel. It’s truly an intense look at several controversial topics, and I’m so glad I decided to do this.
Job well done Lenore Skomal!
A solid five stars to Bluff, though it deserves so much more.
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About the author: Lenore Skomal wants you to eat her books. Her passionate desire is to touch your heart, inspire you, and luxuriate in the world of the written word. She is an award-winning author with the single goal of resonating with others. Winner of multiple awards for blogging, literature, biography and humor, her catalogue spans many genres. With 30 years of writing experience, 18 books published, a daily blog and weekly newspaper column, the consistent themes in her work are the big issues of the human experience and adding depth and voice to the intricacies involved in living a multi-dimensional existence. She has won many Society of Professional Journalist awards, the Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference honorable mention for best fiction, Writer’s Digest 73rd Annual Fiction Contest, New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens 2003, and most recently, the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor for “Burnt Toast.,” her first anthology of her award winning humor columns. From journalism, to literary fiction, to humor and biography, her writing is consistent, if not in genre, then in message.
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