Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Breath of a Child by Donna M. Rinelli

Breath of a Child

Author: Donna M. Rinelli Rrt
                                                   Publisher: Balboa Press                      
Published:   February   12 2012
Format:  Paperback
 Pages:  104
How I received this book: Won in a Goodreads Giveaway
Read: May 21 2012
My rating: 1 star
In a Few Words: Choppy and erratic, but the sentiment  is nice
Amazon: Buy it here

Breath of a Child is about finding the things in life that fill your soul. As a child, it was once there where you felt the closest to your soul. Through that feeling, you can find who you truly are in life. We have prepared ourselves as children to be in situations that are in our life today, helping us to server others. It’s being who you were born to be, helping you to live a more content, happy, and exciting life. There are so many ingredients that make a human being, and through many of them, we tend to lose who we truly are. We can sift through them, separating them by learning to rewire our brains with better thoughts. Just because we go through suffering and pain does not mean we have to live with it in our world. By allowing it to be released, you can begin to see the love in yourself, allowing you to have a fulfilled life.

Melissa's Musings:

Let me start off by saying, while I did not care for this book, it does not automatically mean the book isn't good. It just didn't work for me. Here's why:

The Writing:

The writing in this book was extremely choppy and much too wordy. I think the author may have been trying to reiterate her passion about her points a little too much because the writing is hard to digest and doesn't flow well. There are numerous spelling mistakes and misuse of words. A few that stick out are the use of the word "quilt" when it's clear that she meant to use guilt. Even though I knew what she meant, it still interrupted my reading flow enough for me to go back and have to think about what she was actually trying to say.
      One blunder actually made me laugh out loud. The author was talking about how she moved in with her grandmother at one point. Where did they move to, you're wondering? They moved to Fort Larderdale Florida. Instead of beaches and bikinis, I imagined bunches of overweight people sweltering in the sun. The laugh was nice, but in the end it still detracts from the reading experience.
        Another part about this that was confusing is the jumping forward and backward in time. Instead of a sensible, linear timeline, the narrative jumps around A LOT. This happens in terms of time and age of the author as well as the events that she is trying to describe. At one point she is describing her parents love of music and the very next sentence has her talking about Christmas.

I suppose what I'm trying to say here is something many of us probably heard when we were in school. "Remember to show, not tell." There is a great deal of "telling" in this book, and not all of it is connected together clearly. When I first started reading this it reminded me of a free write that you might do in a creative writing class where you just write for a set amount of time and don't worry about editing or content. Not all of the narrative is like that, but it has that same sort of feeling throughout.

There is one spot in the book that is so much more descriptive, with more "showing" than telling. Rinelli is talking about a dream she has continually where she is in a beautiful place waiting to see a friend who has passed on. The pages in this part are full of descriptive colorful phrases. I found myself reading this and thinking "Now, this is what I'd like to see in the rest of the story."

To me, that means that the potential is definitely there, maybe this narrative just needed a fresh set of eyes to catch these things and it would have flowed together better.

Some of the Events Just Aren't Realistic:

The heading here is pretty self explanatory but I'll give an example to explain. Rinelli talks about a time when, as a two year old, she got into some sort of drug that her parents had left out and had a bad trip. She writes about what she saw when she was under the influence of this drug, and describes the change in the room temperature and hallucinating about a baby in the crib in the middle of the room that she knew was herself. And, that as she walked through the house a doorway appeared magically between her and her parents rooms.

It doesn't make sense to me that someone who was a toddler at the time would remember this event with such concrete thoughts of the event. 

I Couldn't Relate to the Narrative or the Author:

As a result of all the "telling" going on, I couldn't relate to the author's experiences. This was supposed to be about how the author survived experiences with child abuse. There were hints at it, sections saying things like "my abusers had power over me" but there was no description of what actually happened that was so horrible to bring about this "journey of change" that the author is on. The author does go on to explain why she doesn't go into any detail about these abusive events by saying that she chose not to provide any details because the events are over and they didn't exist, and that there are too many people involved and she doesn't want to hurt anyone she loves including the abusers. (Rinelli, 78)

I wasn't expecting explicit details of every abusive incident, but something to help us understand where she was coming from with all of these vague hints would have been good. 

My inability to relate to this narrative also has to do with the structure again, in that there were random happenings and descriptions interspersed with what I think are supposed to be spiritual/empowering guidance points. That's part of the problem though. The past events are literally mixed into the same sections as these empowering points and there's really no explanation of how the author used these tools to help herself, just generic descriptions of the exercises. Again, too much "telling," not enough "showing."

You're Probably Wondering:

At this point, you're probably wondering, "If there's so much that you didn't like about it, why on earth did you keep reading it?"

Well, for a few reasons:
  1. I absolutely hate not finishing books. It's one of my pet peeves. I do have a Goodreads shelf called "abandoned" for books that I can't finish, but there are only 5 books on it.
  2. It was only 104 pages. I would have felt foolish for not finishing a book that short.
  3. The central idea around the book was interesting and I wanted to see if there might be any bits of information that I could pick up or learn from this, however small. (Unfortunately I didn't gain any new information)
  4. I was really hoping that this book would redeem itself somehow. There might be some sort of vivid epiphany, or extremely useful technique or other resource that might have made it worth reading. That didn't happen here, but obviously the hope that this might happen was enough to keep me reading it.
In Closing:

With all that I've said about this book, you should really choose for yourself whether you want to read this or not. What may not be good to me may seem like a wonderful story to you. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys life narratives, with self help elements mixed in.


kimba88 said...

bummer, I get the whole DNF thing. I only have one on my shelf..LOL Thanks for sharing your thoughts ..the premises sounds good just not the execution.

Melissa said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates not finishing books. :)