The Truth About Celia by Kevin Brockmeier

Devastating and dazzling; in its painful fusion of pathos, fantasy – ultimately- realism, Brockmeier’s heartbreaking book is reminiscent on The Lovely Bones” so says Time Out.

I’d agree with the first bit of this assessment of Kevin Brockmeier’s book,  but not with the second- this book is nothing like The Lovely Bones a book which I admired the heck out of for the first 100 pages and was then incredibly disappointed with.

Other than a few rave reviews, I knew nothing about this book or its author. The book’s cover is disconcertingly like The Time Traveler’s Wife (a book I love to bits) but there are no other similarities. Brockmeier’s book is an incredible journey into the devastating grief that grips fantasy writer, Christopher Brooks, and his wife Janet, after their seven year old daughter, Celia, goes missing from their back yard.

The book consists of several short stories, all written by Christopher as he attempts to come to terms with Celia’s disappearance; he imagines (and writes about) her living in different worlds and he also addresses his own grief- and the grief of his wife- in these stories.

There is nothing linear about this book…and there is no resolution- and the mystery of Celia’s disappearance is never solved and none of that matters one bit. The Truth About Celia is luminous, heartbreaking and utterly beautiful. I highly recommend it.

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1. What is the purpose of using a book-within-a-book technique?

2. The story, while not linear, allows us to glimpse into the lives of several secondary characters. What is the point of sharing the particular details of these lives?

3. Are the book’s closing lines “Why had he imagined that life must always end in death, and never in anything else? He is not nearly at the end” hopeful or without hope?



2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions (about 2 pounds), halved, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

For crust:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Make well in center of dry ingredients. Whisk milk, olive oil, and melted butter in liquid measuring cup to blend. Slowly pour milk mixture into well in dry ingredients, stirring until just blended and smooth. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 10×13-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to rimmed baking sheet. Re-form dough into 10×13-inch rectangle (dough will shrink when moved). Pierce dough all over with fork. Let dough rest while preparing topping.

For topping:
Melt butter with oil in large skillet over high heat. Add onions. Cook until onions are soft and beginning to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add rosemary, sugar, and salt. Season onions to taste with pepper. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook until onions are soft and dark brown, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes; cool.

Spread onion mixture evenly over dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Cut into squares and serve.


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