Live to Tell is a best-selling novel that I looked forward to reading. As you know, reviews that begin, “I was looking forward to reading this book,” are not often written by people who will urge you to run out and buy “this book.” Just as I am delighted when I expect a dud but find a gem, I am disappointed when I expect excitement and get, well, words. Live to Tell is not a bad book, and Wendy Corsi Staub is not a bad writer. She certainly knows a lot of words.
Staub also knows how to build suspense. But reading Live to Tell is like having someone tell you at 5 a.m., “We’re really going to have a great dessert tonight,” and reminding you every five minutes. Here it’s “there’s some really good stuff at the end of this book…” We get it already; it’s a thriller; we know there’s going to be good stuff at the end.
There are three families in Live to Tell, and they are connected by secrets. Big secrets. Secrets that the author will only hint at for three hundred or so pages. It’s irritating. I don’t always want to guess how a story will end, but I’d like to be pointed in the right direction not dragged along without a clue. The odd thing about Live to Tell is that the author telegraphs too much on the first few pages.
Live to Tell is the story of a newly-single mom, Lauren, who is smart unless the plot requires her to do something dumb. Then she’s numbingly dumb. Her two-dimensional louse of a husband left her for another woman, and she spends a lot of time thinking what a bum he is to have done this to her and their three children. She examines her own feelings at such great length, we double check our mail to see if we received an invitation to this pity party.