Blood Orange takes place in San Diego, CA and is the story of how a middle-class couple deals with the abduction of their young daughter, Bailey. Bailey was born with some mental deficiencies that are manifested through late development and learning disabilities. Dana is her stay-at-home mother. She is bored and resentful of the amount of care Bailey requires. She feels that motherhood is interfering with her academic life. She can’t seem to finish her thesis. David is a former professional football player who later became a defense attorney. He is working on the defense of a man who is accused of murdering a neighbor girl. When Bailey disappears, David devotes his waking hours to his work. Dana spends every waking moment mourning her missing daughter. The couple is growing apart, but that fissure was already in place before the abduction. It grows even wider when Bailey appears on their doorstep out of no where.
This book has some interesting characters whose experiences, thoughts, and fears are similar to mine. Dana spends her life doing things of which she feels everyone else would approve. She is shocked when the assumptions she’s made about other people and how they feel about her and her family are completely off base. She doesn’t even know what she wants, making it hard to even please herself. There lives with a lot of resentment and guilt in her heart. Lexy, an Episcopalian priest, definitely has the same spiritual issues that I have. At one point in the book, she even mentions that she has trouble distinguishing God and her mother. I hear that, sister.
Although I can relate to some of the struggles faced by the main characters, I felt that there was a lot added simply for shock value. It jumped out at me because it either made a character a cliché or it went totally against the make up of the character. The two examples that I keep thinking about this morning deal with David and Marsha, the wife of the man he is defending.
David is supposed to be a super-supportive and sensitive husband and father. His belief, which could be shot down by anyone else who cared to look, that his wife had it “easy” because she only had to care for her child and work a few hours at a local bookstore was confusing. With all that was going on, he should have known better. On top of that, he never seemed to understand why their sex life was lacking. Hmm… Perhaps that is because what he really wanted was a bl@w j@b just before he fell asleep. It was difficult for me to buy him as a sympathetic character.
Marsha is one messed up woman. She’s extremely pregnant while her husband is awaiting trial. She’s a chain smoker and a heavy drinker. She’s clearly in a stressful and confusing situation, but her lack of concern for her unborn child (or much of anything else) is over the top. At one point, after telling Dana that she is carrying a daughter, she calls the baby a “poor c*nt.” Not everyone is maternal, but WTF? That goes way beyond stressed out and under the influence if you ask me. It makes you wonder if she has a soul.
I read this book in two days. I was interested in how the story ended. I just can’t tell you why. I didn’t care about any of the characters – not even Bailey – on an emotional level. It was an interesting study on how childhood affects adult lives; but I can’t say that I loved this book. I’m not even sure that I would be interested in reading another book by this author. Still, staying up until 2am this morning to finish it must say something.
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