An incredible tale of love and madness told, very much of the time, as an interior monologue in the mind of a grieving widow, and in the ramblings of a ten-year-old boy who lived through an unimaginable hell.
That boy, Scott Landon (Scooter, ya Old Scoot – as his insane daddy called him) went on to become a best selling author, National Book Award winner, and discoverer (creator?) of Boo’ya Moon – a secret, magical place that both nourishes and kills. He’s a father murderer too because he’s also a survivor.
In Scott’s mind and the minds of so many readers, certainly, one of the very best things he ever did, maybe the key to his survival for so many years, was to marry little Lisey Debusher… youngest, littlest, and strongest of the Debusher sisters. She saved him.
Lisa Landon is one strong woman let me tell you, and the fact may escape you if you just listen to her interior monologues. Oh yes, she’s in awe of Scott. Yes, she admires his work and his genius. She’s content to stand in the background, hold the ceremonial shovel that they gave her husband after he used it to dig the first spade of earth at the dedication of a new university library. But she’s just as quick to whack an intended murderer with it, just in time to save her Scott’s life. And the fact that they give credit for the heroic act to an uninvolved bystander is something that she just finds… funny. She’s with Scott, after all, she’s on the inside. Though no one knows the pain she has to share because of it.
Lisey is so strong she can go to Boo’ya moon on her own. She can bring Scott back when he goes there to hide. Lisey finds her sister there and saves her too.
After Scott dies and some madman decides he wants to kill Lisey to get Scott’s old papers (or more realistically, just for the thrill of it), Lisey sends the cops away. She doesn’t want or need their protection; she’s not even sure what she’s doing consciously. But inside she knows exactly what’s happening and how to get rid of the guy. And she does it. Then she confronts the same monster that stalked Scott all of his life and faces up to it. That’s how strong little Lisey is.
Playing against the narrative of Lisey’s Story is the story of little Scottie Landon. Telling his girl/his wife about the horrific series of experiences is one of the challenges Scott faces, and he takes the whole book to reveal all the details. These details (let me tell you) allow Mr. King to display all his powers to shock and horrify. But that’s not the genius of this book. It’s the love story, and the love between Scott and Lisey (and maybe Steve and Tabatha King) glows on almost every page… never maudlin, never overstated; it’s just simply, beautifully there.
I listened to the audiobook read by Mare Winningham, this time around. And it was impeccable, powerful, amazing. Slow and intimate it’s one of the best audiobook readings I’ve ever heard. She has to move back and forth between the voice of Lisey, and little Scott and Scott’s insane father… sometimes in the space of a single sentence. The performance is simply masterful.