Thirsty has received great praise from reviewers and at a mere 207 pages, I thought this book would be a wonderful quick read. “Wonderful” it is, but “quick read” it is not. Thirsty is an incredible story of survival about a courageous young Croatian woman who marries a man she hardly knows because it’s the only way to escape the wrath of her abusive father. Following her dream of a better life, she agrees to move to America with her husband. Instead of finding beautiful land and happiness, Klara’s finds herself in a black soot covered steel town called Thirsty with a husband whose abusive rage is worse than that of the father she left in Croatia. The novel follows Klara over the span of forty years—she has children, she finds friends, she survives tragedies, and ultimately she finds peace.
This is a multi-layered book that cannot be read too quickly. It is a novel about domestic abuse, social class, stereotypes, prejudice, sexuality, faith, and friendship. Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s poetic writing grasps the reader and does not let go until the final words of the last chapter. Her descriptions of tragedy and loss are so gut wrenching! At times, I found myself holding my breath.
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