3 Stars Out Of 5
Mixed Bag; Loose Ends
January 28, 2014
When I finished the book, my first thought was, "I wish I could have been the editor!" That is because I felt that with just a bit of tweaking this book could go from "pretty good" to "great read." The author's strong point is character development. You get to know the characters and their motivations. The pacing is excellent (until the final two chapters). The storyline is fresh and believable until.. it stops. If I had been the editor, I would have asked the author to rewrite the ending because she switched from 'showing' to 'telling,' and that left some unresolved issues. I am not talking about a set-up for a possible next book in the series either. I mean it just stops without an honest resolution.
Charlotte, the main character, knows the hidden truth about a felony in which another character dies. Apparently she is fine with that. In her prayer, she rationalizes it as "keeping a promise." The author fails to give any hint that this is a setup for a future disaster, and this omission is the greatest weakness of the book: the failure to recognize that keeping a lie is not okay. The entire theme of the book is about getting old garbage out in the open and rebuilding a life (several lives, actually), and yet the heroine decides to be complicit in secretly storing other characters' garbage. That is a bit traitorous for the reader.
The other spot where the editor failed this author was in not fixing a gratuitous scene. There is a lot of evidence that Charlotte had suffered psychological abuse from her husband, and throughout the book she is dealing with and recovering from those issues; but then near the climax, and seemingly out of the blue, she says it was physical abuse. Why? Just to identify with another character? It weakened the reader's opinion of Charlotte to have that thrown in so late in the story. Charlotte is in her early 40s (you have to run the math based on a conversion with her mom to get this because up to that point she acted older). The psychological abuse toward a woman that age was well written and believable. But the "Oh, yeah, and my late husband hit me too" coming out the way it did later in the story actually made me feel less sympathy for her. If this character shows up in any sequel, I hope she gets slapped with an obstruction of justice charge.