Chicklit Club
 

SONJA YOERG

 

The Middle of Somewhere (2015)

 

With her thirtieth birthday looming in the future, and baggage from the past dragging her down, Liz Kraft wants nothing more than some time away to clear her head. She plans to hike the John Muir trail, an arduous three-week hike through the Sierra Mountains in California. However, when her boyfriend Dante decides he wants to join her, Liz is disappointed that she won't get the isolation that she craves. Over the next three weeks, Liz and Dante face thunderstorms, a pair of odd brothers that make them feel uneasy, and Liz risks slipping up and letting all of her secrets out. Will Dante stay when he learns more about her?  I didn’t enjoy this book at all. The plot was incredibly slow and it felt like the author couldn't make up her mind if it was a drama, romance or thriller. Too much scenery description. I appreciate some description, but page after page of "Liz went on this trail. She saw a tree. And a sunset. And then in rained. She was scared. She slept. She walked another bazillion miles. She was tired and sore. Then, she ate some supper" got old real fast.  I  also couldn’t emotionally invest in any of the characters. Even though they were dealing with common real life problems, they did not seem believable or authentic.  There was very little conflict resolution, as well. I thought Liz's trip was meant to be introspective and healing, but she was more concerned with the people around her. She talked about her past, but didn't really deal with it.  Dante's character was confusing. I don't understand why Liz was with him at all as she found him annoying most of the time. The two villainous brothers that Liz and Dante meet on the John Muir trail didn't seem to fit either. They didn't have a convincing motive as to why they chose this particular trail to hike, and why they chose to mess with certain people. They were villains for no real plausible, good reason, other than to add interest and tension to the story. The explanation at the end for their odd behaviour was glazed over which was surprising, given the amount of time the book spends on them. This book has been receiving good reviews elsewhere but it just didn’t work for me. (CK)


 

House Broken (2014)

 

This is a heartfelt debut about a woman's journey to connect with her mother, siblings, children and husband. Geneva Novak is a typical woman trying to find balance between her career as a veterinarian and family. Her world is thrown a major curveball when her mother, Helen, is injured in a car accident while driving intoxicated. Geneva's relationship with Helen has never been ideal and she is reluctant to invite her to move in to recover, but Geneva is Helen's only option. Geneva doesn't count on the impact Helen's presence will have on the rest of the household and before long, Geneva finds herself facing long-buried secrets about her family that she never expected and new problems involving her own children. I admired Geneva and her courage to persevere with so many obstacles in her path. Her determination to uncover the truth about her mother's drinking and her oldest sister Paris' 30-year estrangement with their mother made me feel a lot of empathy for her. Geneva starts looking at the parallels between the relationship she has with her mother and the one she has with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ella, and realises she doesn't want the same patterns to repeat themselves. The plot switches smoothly between the past and the present and gives the viewpoints of Geneva, Helen and Ella. As more is revealed about Geneva's parents and the secrets that have been long buried, Geneva's belief system is shaken. When I first saw the cover of this book, I initially thought this would be a woman's hilarious journey to potty train her puppy. In fact the adorable dog on the cover is only a minor character in the story. This book covers a lot of painful and sensitive topics that took me by surprise. Kudos to the author for writing a book that addresses these topics with grace and class that drew a lot of emotions out of me. I recommend this story for the strong familial relationships and one woman's determination to shine the light of truth on the dark corners of her family's past. (SH)

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