Monday, March 18, 2013

Book review: Until Forever

It seems that every time I try to create a new blog, it doesn't work for one reason or another. I just need to take the hint and stick with the two blogs I already have. That being said, here is the first (and only) entry from my well-intentioned book blog:

Ever since I got a Kindle last year for my birthday, I seem to be making up for all the reading I never did while I was in school.

My original intent in having a book blog was to ramp up my reading of non-fiction books and write an entry per chapter...BUT there would end up being months between entries. I just don't like reading non-fiction...

Anyway, a fiction review for you (and a rhyme as well :))

Until Forever - 3 stars
by Darlene Shortridge

Summary (as found on goodreads):

It was something she would never forgive herself for…

It wasn’t until lunchtime that Jessi remembered to call home. No answer. She tried calling several times while she ate her lunch. Still no answer. She closed her eyes and rested her arms and head on her desk. She breathed deeply, wishing she had remembered to call earlier.

Until Forever is a story of a young family that is torn apart by the devastating effects of alcoholism. Can healing take place in a relationship when an unforgivable act is committed? Will Jessi's pain and Mark's guilt keep them apart forever, or will unforeseen circumstances bind them together?

I wavered between giving this book two stars or three. I went with three because I liked the story and the characters. When I first found this book on the free list for the kindle, I was super happy. I've seen firsthand the damage alcoholism can do to/in a family. And the synopsis intrigued me.

Like I said, the story was good and the characters were likeable. And, of course, I was happy to see the Jessi and Mark got back together. However, I was disappointed with the writing. There were hopping POVs (many within the same paragraph), too many POVs (i.e. the Sunday school teacher's POV was unnecessary), and I wasn't sure who and what to pay attention to. found some of the character's actions (namely Olivia's) to be unbelievable. She was too perceptive for a five (going on six)-year-old. She understood things about Jesus and God that many adults don't get. Like God telling her not to tell her mom she could read...I'm not sure I buy that God would talk to a child on that deep a level. I'm not saying it's impossible...but some background into why would have helped.

Too many thoughts, feelings, and conversations were quickly skipped over without getting into what motivated a character to say or do something. For example, the process of Jessi forgiving Mark for killing their son. One page - he doesn't deserve forgiveness and she doesn't trust him; ten pages later - their daughter's spending the night at his house? Some internal (or external) dialoging would have expanded the story and given the characters more depth. Also, the ignition mechanism, or whatever it was that Mark had to use to be able to drive again. I have no idea what that is. Authors can't assume that a person knows what they know.

Lastly, it was a little too preachy and plastic-y, in my opinion. In my experience, the real world does not always yield strong convictions and the time or will to pray and read the Bible as much as these people did. When Mark decided to move from Oklahoma City to Wisconsin, he was convinced it was in God's will -- bing, bang, boom. He didn't even ask God or seek wise counsel from friends/pastors. He decided what he wanted to do and everyone agreed with him? I need to find those friends then because that has never happened to me!

There are some other things that didn't sit right with me, but I don't want to turn this into a book bashing. I'm not sure I'd read it again, but I'm not sorry I did.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Being present

One of my biggest problems is living in the past...or future. I'm hardly (if ever) in the present. I don't enjoy being with the ladies (and some gents) from church because my mind is swimming in the waters of what used to be. I'm not making new friends here because I'm waiting to go back. I can't get it right, which only causes me MORE pain. So, how do I soak in what's happening TODAY?

I have tried so many different things to do that and nothing has brought me any real success. I think we all do future planning to some extent, but there's a fine line between planning and obsession and I always get caught on the wrong side.

One of the "planning" exercises I find myself doing is deciding the next thing I'm going to say in a conversation when the other person is talking. I've heard a number of people say they do it too, so I know I'm not alone. Being in the majority is fine and dandy, but the problem comes in that we are not really listening to people; thereby sending the message that they don't deserve a basic human decency: the right to be heard.

I have to make a very conscious effort to tell myself not to do that. I guess that's an effective way to stop doing a lot of things. The hard part comes in training myself to tell myself no. I bet this is how "taking every thought captive to Jesus" starts. Seems like a daunting process.

Thought for the day (or week or until I blog again): Are we incapable of being alive and content in the present moment?