Picky Reader – 20

For those of you who don’t know, Picky Reader blogs are my comments about books I’ve recently read.  Not reviews and not necessarily recommendations, but if I loved it, I’ll say so.

A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne.  A young girl’s perception of events in her neighborhood and within her own family when a boy is murdered.

Hot Fudge Sundae Blues by Bev Marshall.  I often think the mark of a book I’m enjoying is how long it takes me to read it.  I did not zip through this one even though I skimmed a lot of it.  I couldn’t get through the hot fudge pool of detail at times, although it started off well enough with a young girl growing up in the south who seeks salvation.  (Good, she has a goal from almost page one.)  But it seemed the story rambled on from there, and her goal got lost in the telling.  I don’t think it’s my imagination I seem to pick up a lot of books where the protaganist is a young girl with less than adequate parenting and often an adult male in the picture who should be arrested for lewd and lascivious acts. 

The Good Nearby by Nancy Moser.  I should know by now Christian/inspirational-type novels are not my thing.  I always have a problem with them and this one is no exception.  Mostly I have trouble sympathizing with or understanding the characters.  For some reason these stories often seem contrived, characters manipulated and I get the impression the authors are trying too hard to prove a point.  Maybe it’s because the point does not need to be proven to me.

A short list of issues I had with this book:  One character who needs a kidney transplant, has been on kidney dialysis and has a port implanted in her forearm.  She has kept her condition a secret even from her own family so she won’t appear needy.  She is surprised to learn her daughter is being mentored by another woman and her husband is having an affair.  Should she be so shocked when she’s done everything she can to prove she doesn’t need them?  She is not even remotely sympathetic (or kind) when her husband learns of her condition and confronts her and apologizes for straying. 

Another character fights the very idea a cornea transplant will restore her sight.  She blames God for pretty much everything, including her elderly mother’s death, believing he plays a tit for tat game with us human beings.  I’m sure a lot of semi-believers believe that, but it seemed unreasonable to me because I don’t know why she feels this way.  This woman runs a pharmacy and doesn’t have an alarm system or a safe.  She keeps a cash box in a desk drawer and gives a brand new employee the keys to the doors.  Talk about stretching believability! 

Jumbled into this mix are two other characters in abusive marital relationships and a young man who needs a heart transplant.  I have a feeling someone’s going to die and everyone is going to get the transplant they need from one of these characters.  Thus, the title.

In books like these there may be a nugget of gold we all need to hear, but I wish I understood where the characters are coming from and why they feel the way they do.  Maybe then I could feel more connected to them and I’d enjoy the story more.  Or maybe the lesson for me is God wants me to be less critical.

Keeping Company by Tami Hoag.  A reprint of a Bantam Loveswept novel first published in 1990.  Tami Hoag is one of my favorite authors, so it’s interesting fun to go back and read some of her early work.

Enders Game by Orson Scott Card.  First let me say I don’t read science fiction.  Science was my second worst subject in school right after math.  Although I have been known to watch Star Trek in all its many forms, I don’t, as a general rule, pick up science fiction books to read.  My husband, however, reads a lot of it.  In his quest to assist my writing endeavors he suggested two book to me.  One was Old Man’s War (which I read).  The other was Enders Game.  Apparently, both are classics.  Enders Game is a good story, easy to understand, not overly “techie” and fairly short.  If you want to ease into some science fiction, it’s probably a good place to start.  My only issue with it is it’s sort of unrelentingly grim.  I think we all know by now my penchant for books with happy endings.  Not to say Enders Game doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion, but it’s a rather loveless story.  Maybe next time I’ll try sci-fi romance.

This is the 20th installment of my Picky Reader blogs.

You can always visit me at www.barbmeyers.com

 

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