Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wonder of Ordinary Magic, Lilli Jolgren Day (4 stars)

From Amazon: Bobby Weaver is a young writer with an unfinished novel: a murder mystery involving two strangers hiking on the Appalachian Trail who slowly fall head over heels for each other. However, there's a caveat to Bobby's work--Bobby's in a coma, deteriorating both physically and mentally while still painfully aware of what's going on around him. As Bobby strives to tie up loose ends in his final story, if just for himself and his characters, the reader is given a glimpse of the life he's left behind in the form of day-in-the-life vignettes of his family. A vibrant, original story steeped in symbolism and family ties, this haunting debut explores the subtle ways lives are connected, broken, and renewed by love.

Bobby Weaver is struggling to write his latest novel and deal with the aftermath of a horrible accident. To top it off, he’s in a coma. The story is told not only from his point of view, but from several other family members’ perspectives.

Each family member is dealing with their own issues and facing Bobby’s deteriorating condition. They’ve all dealt with loss and are struggling to find their way. So much so that the novel ends up being about all of them, almost a collection of mini-novels.

The narration from Bobby is captivating. He’s aware and his mind is overflowing, even though he can’t communicate with his visitors or the nursing staff. The internal dialogue was real and pulled you in. His thoughts jumped from one topic to another, which I appreciated because it was so similar to my own internal musings. But most intriguing, he’s writing his final novel in his mind.

One can’t help but wonder if his novel, about a boy and girl getting in way over their heads, is symbolic of his own fear as he faces the end. The author built an emotional intensity with Bobby’s novel and internal interpretation of what was happening to him.

Yet, my heart went out to many other characters in this novel, too. Bobby and his brother, Tom, had already lost both their parents and Tom’s wife, Miranda, lost her mother to cancer. But intertwined with their tales was Chloe’s, Miranda and Tom’s daughter, who added the note of childhood innocence and pure love.

Days after I finished reading this book, I was still thinking about it and wondering how the family would move on. My only complaint… I loved all the insight provided by multiple characters as narrators, but I wished there had been more interaction between the characters—a bit more balance between insight and interaction.

I’ll admit, too, that I was frustrated that it took so long to find out what happened to Bobby and that there weren’t more scenes with the characters at his bedside. A few times, the stories felt disjointed. Fortunately, the author crafted such compelling characters that I still felt engaged even when the story veered a bit of course.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys in-depth insight into compelling characters. If you are constantly intrigued by the inner workings of the mind, you will love the multi-character story arc. And I can’t imagine anyone could read the end without a tear rolling down their cheek.

Oh, and I have to mention how very much I loved the cover. Beautiful and compelling.

Rating: 4 stars


I’m including this information from the author from Amazon, because I found it interesting:

The Story Behind the Book

One afternoon, while driving down a highway near my home, a large semi-truck suddenly swerved into my lane and cut me off. At that moment, I happened to be thinking about an important change I wanted to make in a book I was writing. As I headed for what I thought might well be that grand finale in the sky, I waited for the rush of Technicolor memories from my vanishing life to flash before my eyes. Instead, my adrenaline charged brain was only capable of processing one thought--if die right now, what will happen to my book? And then I wondered, what if I live but I'm badly injured in the accident, say left in a coma, could I still keep working on the book in my head? Nobody would know of course, but at least I could finish it!

As it turns out, my guardian angel must have been on her toes that afternoon, helping me to fearlessly guide my car up onto the narrow shoulder of the road long enough to let that bullying eight-wheeler pass. Those few scary moments and peculiar rambling thoughts inspired this book, a spare, bittersweet story with an unexpected and poignant ending.


Note: I received a complimentary copy as a World Literary Cafe reviewer. A positive review was not guaranteed or asked for; my opinions are my own.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the lovely, insightful review Tia! As an author yourself, you understand how we put a little piece of ourselves into our writing and it's gratifying to know someone read our words and found meaning and value in them, you made my weekend:)

Tia Bach said...

You are welcome. I enjoyed it, especially Chloe and the novel within a novel. As an author, I really identified with Bobby's inner musings!