Cementville is a first novel for Paulette Livers. It draws its story from a town in grief and in turmoil. Set with the backdrop of the Vietnam war and its devastating effects on this working class town, the book plumbs the depths of the suffering of ordinary people just trying to get along, trying to live their lives.
The novel is a portrait of a period in time. It begins with sorrow, and heartbreak, and while there is resolution to some of the situations presented, we are left wondering, just as we are everyday in real life. The book wonderfully portrays life in a close community with the support and the conflict that comes with it.
Its style gives the feeling of the place to the outsider since Liver doesn’t necessarily explain who people are, but rather, leaves the reader to learn from the conversations and interactions in much the same way as a new comer, to any close net community, would need to do. While this does make the novel artistically interesting, it can also be somewhat confusing, just like moving to a new town.
Cementville is a novel written to describe a dark time. Livers does an excellent job of bringing us into the interior life of her characters, allowing us to feel their struggles, their doubts, their fears.