Wednesday, August 25, 2010

a ton of bricks

would have been a better title for Susan Rebecca White's novel, a soft place to land.

So what's my problem with this tale? First, I cannot tolerate authors who make gratuitous use of events - especially 9/11. Setting can be established without mention of this event. Add to that the use of the US Airways Flight 1549 to bring Ruthie to appreciate/understand/love her sister? Lame.
Second, the over use of research. All authors research for their novels - it is their job. A good researcher has more notes than they will ever use. This read smacked of an overt attempt to use every stinking bit of it. We know the main character loves food. We do not need to know that the wings ordered at the bar are "meaty" when she is in the midst of an argument with her husband over her unwillingness to have a baby. Pointless.
Third, the reader needs a character with whom they can strongly identify or hate. Nope. Ruthie is a sweet child who once she becomes an "adult" is whiny and petulant. Julia, for whom we should have no sympathy, is actually the more balanced of the two.
Fourth, authors should never overtly push their political agendas in a narrative. Julia's "wanna be a Jew", Catholic bashing was just abhorrent. The coffee scene was nice; a young couple meets for hours and has a great time talking. She finds out that he is pro-life and she suddenly leaves and then refuses his phone calls. Only 9/ll and going to church brings them together? Lame.
Finally, an unnecessarily complex plot always muddies the waters. Relationships between sisters is difficult. The custody arrangements made in the will, while plausible, was not necessary. Julia could have experienced the same issues living with her sister after the death of the parents. Knocking on the door of the old homestead, being invited in with the country club drunk and being given the mom's old treasures found in a 'secret' closet? I could go on and on...
I need a really good book to flush this one out of my mind!

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