Aunt Nellie B
by Dixiane Hallaj
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Aunt Nellie B plunges us into the life of Charli as a girl, a young woman, and an old woman. Through the latticework of time Dixanne weaves Charli’s tale of discovery, adventure, trial, and family. As a child, Charli watches her mother and aunts battle a mysterious curse that destroys their marriages. Through her creative eavesdropping, the girl tries to discover how to break the curse for herself and ensure her happily ever after, chronicling her discoveries in her journal. As a young woman, Charli has failed to escape the curse for the first time. We watch her frightening flight from her prince and the inner and outer struggle to break free. Through these times she finds comfort in her childhood journals. As an old woman, she strives to hold together her connections to her family through her daily efforts and attachment to the journals of her childhood. She now strives to rescue her child and other family members from the curse. Is the curse real or a child’s imaginings? Does it matter?
Dixanne took on a very challenging method of storytelling for Aunt Nellie B and triumphed. This story could have so easily become lost in the confusion of when an event happened or how it fit in with other events, but Dixanne handled the complexities with mastery. Her separation of child voice, young woman voice, and old woman voice continued to be both separate and unified in the character speaking them. I could believe that young Charli wrote the diary and the voice of old Charli came out just as distinct as her older self. Instead of confusing me, the style increased my anticipation of what came next and in what timeline.
I loved the personal dynamics and relationship of the all of the characters in Dixanne’s story. She crossed social and cultural boundaries with fluid ease. Charli’s family felt like real, dynamic people, and the main character’s insights into their personalities gave them a lot of depth. When the author introduced a fantastic element of her story, the characters all expressed their doubts and disbeliefs. I found that delightful! Their little quirks such as switching to Spanish when discussing secrets, or fears that divided them, made them feel like a real family.
Dixanne has written a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable story of personal tragedy, courage, and redemption. I approve this title for Awesome Indies. http://awesomeindies.net
I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.