Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Life Got in the Way

Life Got in the WayTitle:  Life Got in the Way
Author: Deborah J. Davis
Publisher: Self Published
Published: June 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Received from the author
in exchange for an honest review
Read: December 29-30 2012
In A Few Words: Nice story, but hard to connect to characters
My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis From the Back Cover:
Life Got in the Way  is the story of two women, Jackie Colson and Dana Talbert, who meet during their freshman year at Wilberforce University and become lifelong friends. Both are bright optimistic students with high expectations of future success. They naively think that the road will be relatively simple and neither is prepared for what life brings them. Little do they know that so many things will be out of their control.

Jackie Colson,  orphaned at birth and raised by her grandmother, is determined to become a partner in a law firm before she's forty. Dana Talbert had a perfect life plan until an unexpected and determined boyfriend got in the way. We journey with them as they face major life issues; marriage, divorce, infidelity, illness and aging. Throughout all their challenges the one thing that remains constant is their bond of friendship. In Life Got in the Way Deborah Davis explores the changing roles of women as they move from the seventies to the present facing changing goals, aspirations, and expectations and the realization that they can do it all, but at what cost.

Melissa's Musings:

 The first few chapters are of the present day, of situations going on that set the pace for the rest of the story, so you can see where it is these women ended up, but the real story starts with Jackie and Diana's graduations. They are just about to graduate from high school and go off to bigger and better things. The friendship between Dana and Jackie is constant throughout the book. It's very simple, and sweet, and mirrors how friendships are so close when you're young and change (not necessarily in a bad way) as you get older and life gets in the way. These two women go through a lot together, which is true of any long lasting friendship. 

The book starts in the present, then jumps backwards to the past and then progresses toward the present again. This is a nice way to tell a story, and connects the characters well. I really appreciate that the author stuck to the first few chapters being in the present day and then going into the past and continuing chronologically rather than jumping back and forth between past and present because that can sometimes be confusing

As pleasant as the friendship is between Diana and Jackie, we never really get to see the two women interact fully and completely. This might sound like an odd statement, but I do have a reason for saying it. The reason we don't get to see them interact completely is because rather than the book being told from one of their perspectives, or even both, the entire book is narrated. Not by another character, but it's just written in a full  narrative style. The style lead to me feeling that the whole book was a "tell".

In writing you're often told that it's better to "show not tell." Showing allows you to fully develop characters, setting, plot etc. In this books' case, the telling style was nice at first, but I was really hoping that as the book went on, there would be more interaction between the characters, and that one or both of their perspectives would take over the style. The style of writing left the characters feeling flat, and under developed. It also made them very difficult to connect with or feel for. 

In all honestly, I started to feel bored with their situations. Some of the events, while they would have been shocking if told from the characters point of view, such as Jackie's discovering her husbands' infidelity, just felt blah. It was like, "Okay...and?" I didn't really have much of a reaction. These situations also resolved themselves very easily without much conflict.

One good thing about the narrative style is that it does make for an easy read. 

I did appreciate the cover and it's connection to the book. One of the characters in the book, Gran, makes a comment about friends coming and going, and how some stay in your circle for a long time, and others are only in your life for a short time. The cover feels like it represents these circles of friendship. It also could be a symbol of the way that life can sometimes be confusing, and how people can sometimes get diverted from their dreams, or feel like they're just going through a maze and will never find their way out, but how different life choices can eventually lead to what you're looking for.

In order to enjoy this book I'd say that you really have to enjoy narratives rather than character driven books.

Have any of you read this? If so what did you think? How long has your longest friendship lasted?

1 comment:

kimbacaffeinate said...

Yeah, i prefer show don't tell, and love my characters to be fully developed, I am sorry this fell flat, although some of it sounds good.