Review: The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire by Sandra Hutchison

I don’t review anything that isn’t fantasy or science fiction on this blog often unless it was something that really piqued my interest. And Sandra Hutchison’s The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire was something that caught my attention when I first read the summary. I guess it was because it reminded me a little bit of Another Earth, this awesome indie film starring Brit Marling. The movie and this book are quite different but have similar main characters. The story of Another Earth revolves around a young woman who cleans the house of a music professor who lost his family in a car crash. In Ribs and Thigh Bones, the story revolves around a teenage girl who keeps house for a physics professor who lost his family in a plane crash. Interesting, right?

Anyway, read on to know more about The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire and check out my thoughts on the book.

The Ribs and Thigh Bone of DesireAbout the book

It’s the summer of 1977 in a small town in Western Massachusetts. Physics professor David Asken has just lost his young family in a plane crash he somehow survived. Sixteen-year-old neighbor Molly Carmichael used to be the babysitter, but now will be keeping house for him while he recuperates. He’s quietly planning to end his life just as soon as he can drive again, but may not be willing to wait that long after he comes across his dead wife’s journal and encounters more hostility than he had ever imagined. Molly is trying to cope with being known as Tampon Girl, thanks to a sculpture by her notorious artist mother, but she will have to deal with much worse than that after a drunken teenage party.

Both man and girl are going to have to grow up the hard way, and it’s their unexpected connection — fraught with potential scandal — that may just help them do it. This provocative coming-of-age novel asks: Is there ever a time when doing the wrong thing might be exactly right?

This is the second book from Sandra Hutchison’s, whose debut novel THE AWFUL MESS: A LOVE STORY, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist, has been downloaded by over 55,000 readers.

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Interesting and well-written

David survives a plane crash that killed his wife and daughter. Molly, his next door neighbor and his daughter’s babysitter, is hired by his sister to be his housekeeper. Like most survivors, David is struggling with guilt and is even contemplating suicide. Molly, aside from dealing with the grief over the death of David’s daughter Emily, is dealing with issues of her own – one of them being the daughter of a sexually uninhibited artist. The title of this book would probably make you think this is some sexy explicit romance of sorts – that was my first impression until I read the summary – but it’s really not.

The Ribs and Thigh Bones of Desire is an interesting book about a teenage girl dealing with issues that come when you’re just starting to cross over from being a child to a young woman, and a young man dealing with the tragic loss of his family. Life throws them into each other’s lives and they develop a strange relationship. The book is essentially about how they deal with their circumstances and how one significantly figures in the healing of the other.

The book is well-written and is actually not too difficult to read. It’s not a light read, by all means, and it may be hard to read for some because of the sensitive topics that it touches on, but it doesn’t go over the top or becomes too graphic. It doesn’t sugar-coat either and sometimes you have to read between the lines. The characters are interesting, are not one-sided, and work well together. The story also flows comfortably – it didn’t feel too slow or rushed. By the way, the title is a line taken from a work by Virginia Woolf and is mentioned in the book. The ending doesn’t exactly give straight-up answers and may even leave you with more questions, but I find that it’s just fitting to the story.

Overall, this book is a good read and I think anybody who likes unique stories and likes to keep an open mind would appreciate this book.

Note: I received a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Just a quick note: Since I mentioned Another Earth (2011) in my intro to this post, I wanted to write a little bit more about the similarity between the movie and this book. They’re similar in the sense that the two main characters (a young woman and professor) are dealing with their own issues and develop an unlikely relationship. The circumstances are different though, so the dynamics are also completely different. In Another Earth, the young woman caused the car crash that killed the professor’s family and she came to his house years later after being released from prison to say sorry. She lost her nerve and ended up becoming a cleaning maid at his house. Also, Another Earth has a science fiction element and the ending can throw you in a loop. Anyway, both stories are really quite interesting. That is all. :)

About the Author

Jack of all the English-major trades, Sandra Hutchison has worked as a teacher, advertising copywriter, acquisitions editor, and marketing manager. She founded Sheer Hubris Press in 2013 so she could publish her novels and try putting all those skills to work at the same time.

Born and raised in the Tampa Bay area, she survived a transplant to Greenfield, Massachusetts in high school and has stayed in cooler climes ever since. She currently lives with her husband and son outside of Troy, New York, where she teaches writing at Hudson Valley Community College.

If you ever want to spell her name, you or whatever program you are using will want to add an extra n. It’s actually Hutchison, not Hutchinson. But don’t worry, she’s used to it.

Sandra generally doesn’t comment on reviews, though she certainly welcomes them. If you send her a message, she will be happy to respond personally to you.

Visit her website: Sandra Hutchison

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