Monday, June 8, 2009

Not what I expected

Title: The Wednesday Letters
By: Jason F. Wright
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
Genre: Fiction/Christian Fiction
Date Started: June 4, 2009
Date Finished: June 4, 2009

Rating: ??? Not sure

Description (from Barnes & Noble): Their story begins with one letter on their wedding night, a letter from the groom, promising to write his bride every week-for as long they both shall live.

Thirty-nine years later, Jack and Laurel Cooper die in each other's arms. And when their grown children return to the family B&B to arrange the funeral, they discover thousands of letters.

The letters they read tell of surprising joys and sorrows. They also hint at a shocking family secret-and ultimately force the children to confront a life-changing moment of truth . . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I read this book because I saw it on several other blogs, and it was highly recommended. This usually tends to work out badly for me. The more something is praised and recommended, the higher my expectations become. And if the book isn't as good as everyone says it is, I end up disappointed. That isn't exactly what happened here. Reading the reviews and the description online led me to believe that this book was a love story with a shocking secret. I expected there to be a lot more letters; I actually expected most of the book to be only letters, with a little of the other characters thrown in. I think this book would have been amazing if it had just been Jack's letters (the concept is a great idea I hope my future husband, whoever he is, will try). So I was pretty surprised to discover that the book was more about the character development of the Cooper children, not Jack & Laurel's romance.

The writing wasn't amazing either. I had to force myself to keep reading at one point, before the Coopers' letters were found. The letters were the only part Wright wrote really well, and the rest was so-so. My creative writing professor and advisor used one phrase in every single class: "Show; don't tell." He was so emphatic on this point that he even wrote it on the wall during class. It is so important to allow emotions and reactions and events to be shown through the actions of the character, rather than just saying the person felt one way or another. This book did a lot of telling. So much so that before I was halfway through the book, I had already guessed the ending that everyone else found to be a surprise.

And if you have any issue reading about sexual abuse, sexual assault, and/or rape, don't read this book. It dealt with these subjects, and if you can't handle those, you need to stay away from this story. Even though it wasn't graphic, abuse of any kind is a very intense topic. It's because of this that I'm not sure if my reaction to the book isn't entirely based on my reaction to this subject. I read the book in one sitting, unable to put the book down. But I don't think it was because I particularly enjoyed the book. I think it was because the subject matter was so intense, I couldn't just go to sleep without knowing what sort of resolution there might be to such a painful and nightmare-inducing series of events.

So I can't say if I enjoyed the book or not. The bits of romance thrown in here and there and the few letters the Coopers did read were sweet but infrequent. Still, I couldn't stop reading it. It was just so intense (it really is the best word to describe it) that I really didn't have any sort of feeling afterwards. I was mostly numb and didn't have any solid opinion about the book except that I wouldn't read it again for a long time, and that I wanted to watch a mindless comedy afterwards to try to clear my head of the whole thing before going to bed.

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