The Kindle and its free books have been a boon; I’m reading genres I normally don’t, by authors (and publishers) I usually don’t have time for.
However, I recently read one freebie book which left me with mixed feelings.
Generally, I enjoy the books I read. If I don’t, I usually continue reading them because I’m interested in the topic (these are typically non-fiction books.)
I just had that experience with a fiction book.
The book? Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow. Publisher: Thomas Nelson.
The premise: a 24-year-old, second year law student goes from her home in rural Georgia to Savannah for the summer to clerk for a large law firm and gets a practice case for a man who knows something about a 40-year-old murder.
Sounded interesting to me.
When I started the book, I was interested because the main character, Tami, turned out to be homeschooled. Huh. I hadn’t seen that in a novel before. Since I was homeschooled for a time, I was interested.
Soon it became clear that her homeschooling experience and mine were vastly different.
I’m fairly conservative, however Tami and her family took that to an unknown extreme. She had to get permission to take the job from her parents, where to live, etc.
While I finished reading the book, I walked away dissatisfied. For the first time in recent memory, I hadn’t liked the main character for a wide variety of reasons: Her family’s beliefs were leaving her completely unprepared for life, and as an aspiring attorney, I didn’t feel the premise was realistic. If this family was so straight-laced as they put on, I couldn’t see them allowing their daughter to go to law school, let alone pursuing a career of any kind.
I also didn’t appreciate the fact the family was judgmental towards others. It seemed to me that if you didn’t fully agree with their religious perspectives, it didn’t matter whether you claimed to be a Christian–you needed conversion of some sort. This probably bothers me because I do feel like I deal with this on a relatively frequent basis from some of those in my circle.
From a writer’s perspective, I actually learned a bit from this book–unfortunately, mostly on a “what-not-to-do” level. First, it reinforced for me the novelists theory (especially for mystery/suspense writers) you must not start the book to early or too late. I honestly felt this book started too early, and a great deal of what was covered could have effectively been handled in little chunks of back story. Of course, this would have dramatically shortened the book (which probably would have been a good thing.)
Having sympathetic characters was another important thing. While I realize not everyone will like or sympathize with every character (and this one definitely met my criteria), it’s important you can relate to them if you want to keep readers. Other than the homeschooling factoid, I found it extremely difficult to care about Tami. She seemed weak in most areas because she was leaning too hard on her parents as a 24-year-old young woman. From my perspective, her parents were doing her a disservice. But that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, here’s my question for you: Have you hung in with a book where you didn’t like the story or characters? If you have, why did you? What, if anything, did you learn from the book? In the end, did you like the book or were you more like me–dissatisfied and very unlikely to read anything more from the author?
Until next time,