Picky Reader – 21

Hidden by Shelley Shepard Gray.  I think I’m noticing another trend in the “inspirational” novels I’ve read.  Not enough set-up.  Whether this is an editing or an author issue, I can’t say.  All I know is the heroine’s motivation seems weak at best much too often.  In this particular book, the heroine flees a controlling, abusive boyfriend.  She’s twenty-four and lives with her parents who have pushed her to maintain the relationship and don’t believe there’s a problem.  She allows the man to buy her diamond earrings and designer clothes, although it’s not clear what she does in exchange for these items.  She’s changed her job to part-time work to be available to this man.  There’s more, but you get the gist.  He punches her (in the face) and she flees to find refuge with an Amish family and lies to her parents that she’s going on vacation and forgot to tell them. Seriously?  The boyfriend is running for Congress and is wealthy and influential so she can’t go to the local cops.  We are told this is not the first time he’s hit her.  But lots of details are left out, probably intentionally, because I think most parents confronted with a daughter with a bruised jaw at the hands of a boyfriend, would do something to help her.  Her parents pray intermittently but don’t seem particularly religious.

Not understanding why a protagonist behaves a certain way makes it difficult to relate or to care about her.  Otherwise, I might enjoy the story more.

Off the Chart by James W. Hall.  Good suspense.  Second book of his I’ve read.  Very well written. 

Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge.  I have to start reading the back cover blurbs before I pick up books.  I didn’t realize this was inspirational.  Frankly, I’d decided to give up on Christian/inspirational novels before I read this one which succeeds where so many others I’ve read fail.  It’s a fun read and gets its message across without being preachy or sanctimonious.  Although I was initially thrown when God shows up in the story, it works because it’s set up well.  The heroine has a clear, realistic and understandable goal from the beginning.  We understand her motivation and her conflict.  Why can’t more inspirational novels be written this well?

The Punch:  A Novel by Noah Hawley.  If you like big words, sophisticated writing and theological references, this is the book for you.  Especially if you enjoy family relationship stories.  The writing is thoughtful and deliberate.  The author pinpoints the dysfunction which exists in all of us by exploring the issues between two brothers and their parents.  Early on what the characters believe but cannot prove was starting to get on my nerves until the scientific theory behind it was explained in a later chapter.  Warning:  This book might make you take a closer look at your own family dynamic.