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Longlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2011 Shortlisted Best Written Book Blog - 2010

Come In and Cover Me – Book Review

You assumed the dead wanted their story told, that they wanted their lives to be known and remembered and understood. You had to assume that. Only occasionally did Ren allow for the possibility that they were happy sleeping, that they didn’t want to be known, that they didn’t need their stories told by people who dug in the dirt. That maybe it was the diggers who needed the stories. – from Come In and Cover Me –

Ren has been digging in the dirt for quite some time. Early in her archeology career, she uncovered a remarkable find – the pottery of a prehistoric woman who seemed to be combining elements of two unique geographical areas in her art and whose pottery, decorated with parrots, is inspiring. Now thirty-seven years old, Ren is working in a museum when she gets a call that her artist’s work may have been discovered miles from the original dig site. She rushes to the site in the Northern mountains of New Mexico, eager to see for herself what has been uncovered. It is there that she meets Silas, a man who is both nothing like Ren and very similar to her, and someone who recognizes that Ren may not just have luck on her side, but may be drawn to her finds by the voices of the dead.

Come In and Cover Me is Gin Phillips’ second novel, a luminous book filled with the ghosts of the past and so stunningly written that it is hard to step away from it. Ren is a complex character, a woman who has emotionally retreated from others and clings to the ghost of her brother who died when Ren was only twelve. She has an uncanny ability to connect with the dead and her job as an archeologist puts her in the unique position to uncover their stories. Ren finds herself unusually linked to the prehistoric life of a young artist. As the line between the living and the dead grows thinner, Ren finds herself conflicted. She is drawn to Silas in a way she has never experienced before, and yet the past continues to tug at her heart and stunt her emotional growth.

The past was solid, weighable as cement. You could pull it out if you wanted to, but it was done and over, and could be wrapped up and stored without fear of it ever changing. – from Come In and Cover Me –

Come In and Cover Me is a rich story of love, loss, and letting go of the past in order to move into a future. Grief is an important theme in the novel. Ren’s grief is buried, aching, ever present and limiting. She is submerged by it. She does not want to share it. She is stuck in the past. Ren’s journey through her grief gives the reader insight into the idea of recovery, of becoming vulnerable again to love even though the threat of loss is so frightening.

This is also a novel about the importance of stories in our lives and how our personal histories provide the rich tapestry, the back drop, to who we become. It is through story which we gain the perspective we need to grow emotionally and it is through story where we find the inspiration to take risk. Ren sees the importance of story in the life of her long dead artist, but holds her own history deep within her. It is this personal growth, this struggle to let go of her own history and share it with someone else, which I found most satisfying in the novel.

Gin Phillips is a very talented writer. Her prose is radiant. I found myself sinking into this dream-like and beautifully crafted novel. Phillips draws the reader into a world of mystery and imagination as she brings to life the prehistoric characters whose skeletons now lie beneath the dirt of New Mexico. At once achingly sad and joyously hopeful, Come In and Cover Me is a haunting and poignant journey into the heart of a sensitive and enigmatic woman who discovers that it is never too late to heal one’s heart.

I absolutely loved this book from the first page to the last…it has everything I look for in a book: great characters, depth of emotion, original plot, gorgeous writing, and a message about what it means to be human. Don’t be surprised if Come In and Cover Me shows up on my list of best reads for the year – it really is that good.

Highly Recommended.

  • Quality of Writing:
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Overall Rating:

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

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14 Comments

  1. February 15, 2012    

    Wow, this book sounds terrific!

  2. February 15, 2012    

    Wow…I’m stunned by your review. This sounds so emotionally affecting. Thanks for the great review.

  3. February 15, 2012    

    Yay! I just ordered this from Powells last night, so glad to see you loved it.

  4. February 15, 2012    

    Adding it to my list. I’m pretty sure you’re not surprise. 😉

  5. February 15, 2012    

    I’ve been excited about this one since I heard it was coming out. I loved her first book, The Well and the Mine, and I was hoping this one would be as good. Sounds like it is! 😀

  6. February 15, 2012    

    I am glad you enjoyed this. I have it on my wish list, so just a matter of getting around to it…

  7. February 16, 2012    

    This does sound like a wonderful and richly atmospheric novel, and I am glad that you enjoyed it so much! I will have to be on the lookout for it now that it has your thumbs up! Great review today!

  8. February 17, 2012    

    I’m glad you liked this one so much, Wendy. The premise sounds fantastic and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for it!

  9. February 17, 2012    

    I have seen a few reviews of this on other blogs, but it wasn’t until your review just now that I want to read it! I will put it on my list.

  10. February 19, 2012    

    This novel sounds amazing –thanks for spotlighting!

  11. February 20, 2012    

    I am so eager to read this one. It sounds phenomenal. My library doesn’t have it, but I’m going to have to break down and buy it. Glad to hear you loved it!

  12. February 25, 2012    

    Kathy: It is!

    Serena: Oh, I so loved this one!

    Jill: I’ll be waiting to see your review of it 🙂

    Les: Yay!

    Megan: I’m glad to hear you loved The Well and The Mine – I have that on my TBR shelf – need to move it up!

    Kailana: Hope you love it!

    Heather (Zibilee): Thanks 🙂

    Andi: I think this one is right up your alley – hope you get a chance to read it.

    Heather: I’ve read some lukewarm reviews of this book, but also some glowing ones. Hope you’ll love it!

    Kim V.: You’re welcome!

    Carrie: I think it is worth buying – so good!

  13. June 4, 2012    

    Thanks for this really, really lovely review! It made my day. So glad you enjoyed the book.

    • June 5, 2012    

      You are so welcome, Ms. Phillips. I loved your book!

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