Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Life She Was Given

by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Jan 28-Feb 10, 2018

Warning. This is not a book for adults. This is a YA book hiding in plain sight as credible, adult fiction. It's funny that the more I dislike a book, the more I have to say about it. Fundamentally and technically, there is so much wrong.

Let's start with the spelling and grammatical errors. The book alternates chapters between Lilly (in the 1930s) and Julia (in the 50s). At one point, Julia became "Julie" for a sentence or two. I thought I was losing my mind until I realized it was an error! That's pretty hard to overlook. Every new chapter started with a one-sentence synopsis of what happened two chapters earlier, and the pattern was exactly the same. Out of 34 chapters, 20 of them started with "After {the incident}..." It's as though the author isn't giving the reader credit for remembering what happened just a few pages before. Definitely a YA formula. While this is no literary feat, there were sentences that actually made me laugh out loud:
"The headless dressmaker's dummy seemed to be watching, judging her for searching the house."
Haha! I could go on, but I think my point is clear. Fundamentally, Julia living in the 1950s is poorly visualized. She's written more like a young woman in the present day. The overarching themes of the story became increasingly uncomfortable with every page. Lilly is presented as an albino simply because she has porcelain skin. This was misleading, misinformed and a cop out attempting to add suspense to the big reveal in the end. The animal cruelty was excruciating to read and not something that I think adds interest, only a shock value. Add these two themes to the Big Top and yet another hilarious line:
"Because where else would an albino, a lifelong circus performer, and an elephant have any sort of chance at starting over?"
Don't we all wonder the same thing?!!? Wiseman is touted as an "acclaimed, best-selling author" who got her inspiration from the Flowers in the Attic series. Sorry, you are no V.C. Andrews and I found nothing but flaws in this ridiculous novel.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Saints for All Occasions

by J. Courtney Sullivan 
Jan 4-28, 2018

What a lovely story. I adore family dramas, especially ones that span a few generations. Add to that a devout Irish Catholic family, and I'm hooked. I love how the story just kind of quietly unfolded into a completely believable narrative. And while the subject matter isn't exactly groundbreaking or original, I still think the author found a fresh way to tell it.
"Mother Cecilia swore she felt her spirit each time she set foot in the abbey's vegetable garden, or when she went to the grave and placed flowers in springtime. And especially when, in the presence of some lost soul, she attempted to give her solace.
As many paths to God as people on earth."
Beautiful, thought-provoking paragraphs like that are abundant. Sullivan really succeeded in making the reader contemplate her own family dynamic and especially understand the power of prayer and forgiveness. The perfect example of life being too short to hold on to anger.

A great way to start the new year; I'm a little sad to leave these characters.

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