Come In and Cover Me by Gin Phillips
Published by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin
Ren is an archaeologist who can see ghosts, including that of her older brother Scott, who died when Ren was just twelve years old. She excels in her career and is dedicated to telling the stories of our ancestors who lived on this earth and died so many years ago. Ren is currently on the verge of the most important discovery of her career, and while on the site she meets another archaeologist whom she begins developing feelings for. But two of the Mimbres women ghosts have come to give Ren some kind of message about herself, and about this man who she’s actually allowing into her heart – the first person since her brother she has gotten close to – and Ren must figure out what they are trying to tell her and what it means for her life.
I wasn’t too interested in reading Come In and Cover Me until I read this review by Caribou’s mom (Wendy) and I couldn’t help but order it from the library immediately. I must admit that I didn’t fall head-over-heels for this book like Wendy did, but I definitely appreciated many aspects of the novel and overall I would say it falls into the category of “like and would recommend” rather than “love and will force people to read.”
I would say that the best thing about this novel is the character of Ren. She is such a damaged person, so afraid to get close to other people because of the pain she experienced when she lost her brother, yet there is much hope within her. She doesn’t believe she is capable of the kind of love a romantic relationship brings, or perhaps she doesn’t feel she is deserving of it, but when she opens herself up to that possibility, that’s when the book became beautiful for me. Watching Ren grow emotionally and let go of some of the scars from her past really made the entire book worthwhile for me.
And the writing is gorgeous. Phillips is a master at creating evocative prose that made me feel almost like I was in the desert with Ren and her team. I could completely picture the pottery she was working with and I could feel the chill in the air as the ghost of her brother Scott materialized in front of her. I felt that I was in the hot, dry desert with Ren and I could imagine how it must feel to have all that sand and dirt in your eyes and face as one digs slowly and methodically for entire days at a time.
The reason I didn’t fall in love with Come In and Cover Me is because I felt that the plot was a little slow at times for my tastes. I get that it is mostly about Ren’s personal growth, but there were moments when I just wanted something to happen. For me, it could have moved a bit more quickly and then I might have been slightly more in love with the novel as a whole.
That being said, there are many excellent aspects of this book and I can definitely recommend it. If you love character-driven fiction with beautiful writing, Come In and Cover Me is a great choice.