This is the Shereads.org monthly selection for November. If you haven’t heard about shereads and all of the wonderful things these ladies are doing for literacy, please take a moment to check them out. You will find some great recommendations and meet some amazing people.
At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.
Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a tough one! I enjoyed parts of this book immensely and other parts I simply thought were okay. I am trying to come down off of my ivory tower of feminist idealism to write this review in the most non-judgmental way that I can. While I do see that Joshilyn Jackson is exploring the grey area between black and white thinking in this novel, there were some things that I just didn’t get. The questionable decisions of the main character at times made me dislike her enough that I rolled my eyes or shook my head. Still, there were some things that I loved.
Here is what I really liked:
I did not love the main character, but her son was wonderful. I developed an attachment to Natty early on and wanted to ensure his safety, happiness and well-being as if he were my own child. The confused feelings his mother expressed over him that cleared up when she realised he was in danger was major for me. This made the characters feel more human and their relationship to me as the reader much more solid. I could imagine being in her situation thanks to the clearly expressed ideas the author put forth throughout the first half of the story.
The way that William was portrayed as a strong character from the beginning through memories of his previous life made him very solid as well and the type of hero that the reader knows they can count on. I loved that things did not go exactly as I would have predicted within the first few chapters and that the author chose not to follow the traditional boy meets girl and sweeps her into the sunset formula. That was a nice change.
Here’s what I didn’t love as much:
The portrayal of spectrum disorders in this book felt somehow lacking. I did not see that the characters behaved quite as I would have expected for people that are dealing with this disorder. I do understand that there is a reason it is called “spectrum” and there is a broad array of behaviours, personalities, etc. associated with the disorders, but I just didn’t feel it come through in the story as I would have expected.
The part that I just don’t get. I am going to attempt this without a spoiler. There are some things a woman can forgive, and others that I just can’t see any rational person being able to “get over.” The main plot point in this story revolves around one of those things that try as I might, I just can’t see happening in the real world. Perhaps some people are more forgiving than others and I am just not one of them, but again, may I reiterate: I just didn’t get it.
There were quite a few plot lines running here and there in this book that involved the main character’s family and other situations that I thought could have been further developed in order to make the story more interesting, but they were neglected somewhat. It was like carrying around a pair of shoes when you are already wearing some. I didn’t really feel that mentioning them and then not going anywhere with it added much to the story as a whole.
If you are the type of person who is well in touch with your feelings and can forgive a main character for questionable decisions, this might be a book that you will thoroughly enjoy. If you are expecting a light and easy read with no thinking involved, this is not going to be the best book to choose.
This author is very good at writing books that make you think about situations that lie beneath the surface, as well as offering up characters that are hard to forget once you have come to know them.Although this was not my favourite book by Joshilyn Jackson, it does once again reinforce that she thinks outside the box and can come up with new and interesting plots that have not been done before.
I enjoyed the ending of this novel, and applaud the way she decided to go with the future of her main character.
This review is based on a digital review copy from the publisher as part of the Shereads blogging network. My opinions are my own.