unevenly written coming of age story for youth
Gabrielle is fifteen when her parents are killed in a tragic automobile accident. Her parents had designated in their will that she should be taken care of by her aunt and uncle. So Gabrielle is taken from her Chicago home to live on a ranch in North Dakota. The novel then takes us through about the next twelve years of Gabrielle's life.
I was not captured by this novel. Granted, it is youth fiction. That might account for the simplicity of the writing style. I had the feeling as I was reading this novel that I was reading about someone's life, not actually being invited to take part in the unfolding of that life. I never felt like I was right there with Gabrielle, experiencing her struggles and changes. The writing is uneven and at times I was just bored and, had I not agreed to review this book, I would not have finished it.
Themes in this coming of age story include the importance of music, both as an expression of emotion and as a tool for healing emotions. There is also a strong theme of forgiveness. While most of the characters are strong Christians with faith essential to the novel, there is one character who is not and he swears once. It surprised me to see that in a youth novel, but the expression fit the scene and I was not offended.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
May 9, 2013
I couldn't get into this book
Unfortunately, I could not get into this book. At first I thought maybe it was because it was a young adult novel but I knew that couldn't be it because I have read a lot of young adult books and found myself wrapped up in the story. I was very distant from this story and I really didn't want to be.
The main character is a singer and loved music until her parents died while there were headed to a performance. After that Gabrielle rejects music. I wanted to read this story because of the music tie in and I am a music teacher, worship leader, but I never connected with the character.
This is my opinion only and someone else might really connect with the book. I just felt like the author kept me at a distance and never drew me in.
I will say Laurel (the author) has some great visuals and metaphors in the book, I love the words she choose, I just felt like something was missing.
Oh, and there a is a bit of language in the book, so depending on what you allow your teen to read you should know that ahead of time. I was surprised by that, I don't think I have ever read Christian fiction that had a curse word.
Again, my opinion only. You might want to check it out for yourself and see what you think.
An advance reader copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
May 1, 2013
Learning how to move forward past grief!
Meet Gabrielle Larson who was like every other 15-year-girl you could meet. She lived a rich life with her best friend Carmen and her parents who exemplified what being in love after many years of marriage looked like to anyone they ever met. For Gabrielle it would be the one thing she would use as a measurement of what she hoped for when she met the person she hoped she would one day marry as well. For now, the thing that united Gabrielle and her family was music. Both of her parents were people who loved to share their faith through music ministry and it wasn't long before they involved Gabrielle in it as well. Soon the entire family found joy and love through sharing it with others in churches and others venues. But soon Gabrielle overheard a conversation with her parents that they seemed to keep hidden well. That unless more opportunities became available their financial problems would become overwhelming. Still they had faith that God would provide. And He did.
At a last minute request, they were invited to sing at a local church, but Gabrielle and her friend Carmen had other plans to head to the mall. Unfortunately for Gabrielle, it would be the last time she said goodbye to her parents. They both would die tragically in a car accident leaving her to the care of her Aunt Bea and Uncle Will and require her to move to North Dakota from Chicago. What transpires through the remainder of Past Darkness by Laurel Woiwode is the story of how Gabrielle deals with loss. The loss of her parents, her home, her school, her friends and her life. It's about finding ways to move forward when it feels like all you want to do is simply give up.
I received Past Darkness by Laurel Woiwode compliments of Crossway Publishing and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable one. This is such a poignant story that deals with a loss I can't even imagine. How right at the pivotable time in a teens life, her entire world is thrown upside down. How Gabrielle deals with moving to a very rural setting and living the life at a ranch instead of a big city is believable and shows us all that we all deal with loss in very different ways. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone you know who is experiencing coping with a loss of a loved one. It's short and to the point. The only thing I felt lacking was the abrupt ending. It seemed like to me, it simply needed a bit more. I felt like I was left hanging at the end of a incomplete sentence even though the story was complete. I'd rate this one a 4 out of 5 stars.
April 26, 2013