Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Could Be Better

Sometimes I read a story and there are parts that I love and parts that I don't.  I see potential, but it's unfulfilled.  That's the case with a book I read this week.  Dan Walsh is an author who has published 4 or 5 books in the past 3 years.  I really enjoyed his first two books, but I think he might have gone a little fast in writing this last one.  

The book is The Discovery.  It has a story within a story.  The beginning of the story finds Michael and his wife Jenn going to the reading of his grandfather's will.  The story begins with the first 50 or so pages basically about Michael settling into his new house (his grandfather's old house) and buying everything he and his wife want.  Please forgive the cynical description of it, but that was what stood out to me more than anything else in the first section.  Except there is a twist.  Michael's sister wants to know who her grandfather and grandmother were.  There's no wedding pictures or information about them from earlier than a few years after they married.  And then, the story within a story begins.  His grandfather left a final novel for him.  You can guess who it's about.  It takes Michael a little while (a little longer than was believable to me).  And so the story goes...

I enjoyed the story within a story.  It was fun to read and reminded me of why I liked Walsh's first two novels.  It was the story outside of it that was difficult for me to believe.  Michael and Jenn go on and on about what they're going to purchase and their new life.  In letters, his grandfather speaks so highly of him and of him being a Christian.  But, Michael himself never mentions God.  Those characteristics aren't reflected in the first person narrative of the story outside the story.  The way his grandfather saw him and how he presented himself was very dissonant for me.  I actually started to think of this book as a secular novel until the story within a story began.  Then, it was more like a Christian fiction novel.  

Near the end, there was also one comment that particularly bothered me.  There are times when details only detract from the story rather than add to them.  Sometimes it's poor grammar or wording.  Other times it's details that just make one feel yucky about the book.  In this case, this is the passage, "The room was fabulous, the hotel fancier than where we'd spent our honeymoon.  Jenn and I got to make up for some lost time.  We had the kind of time that was... well... that was nobody else's business."  After I read this, I wondered if it was just me, so I asked a good friend who loves to read it.  Her response was far more critical than mine actually.  She set it down and simply said it was poor writing.  That comment just cemented how I perceived Michael.  

Would I recommend this book?  No.  I just wouldn't.  If you haven't read The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser, pick that one up instead.  Or, Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman.  Or Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick.  Or Safely Home by Randy Alcorn...

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Publishing.
“Available April 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

No comments: