The Accidental Christian Book Club

14 Nov

Both of my book clubs kicked off recently, and as you may remember, I promised to review each book.

In my first club, Libby hosted a Southern themed get-together, complete with fried chicken, sweet tea (vodka) and sugary pecans to discuss The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere.

Here’s a synopsis of the book (courtesy of Amazon):

1950 Tennessee, a time and place that straddles the past and present. Ivorie Walker is considered an old maid by the town (though she’s only in her early thirties) and she takes that label with good humor and a grain of salt. Ever since her parents passed away, she has hidden her loneliness behind a fierce independence and a claim of not needing anyone. But her mother’s death hit her harder than anyone suspects and Ivorie wonders if she will be alone forever.
When she realizes that someone has been stealing vegetables from her garden—a feral, dirty-faced boy who disappears into the hills—something about him haunts Ivorie. She can’t imagine what would make him desperate enough to steal and eat from her garden. But what she truly can’t imagine is what the boy faces, each day and night, in the filthy lean-to hut miles up in the hills. Who is he? How did he come to live in the hills? Where did he come from? And, more importantly, can she save him? As Ivorie steps out of her comfort zone to uncover the answers, she unleashes a firestorm in the town—a community that would rather let secrets stay secret.

My take on the novel

In a word: forgettable

It’s not that I hated this book. The story was fine and I breezed through it in a day, but it was basically a poor-man’s The Help with less developed/interesting characters. And for a topic that is pretty intense (the boy has been sexually abused, neglected, and can’t speak because he has a cleft palate) everything gets unrealistically wrapped up neatly with a little bow by the end.

I think I would have preferred this book if the author had gone a less safe/comfortable route in approaching the boy’s struggles and recovery (in the book he is fine and dandy in a few months time). But given that before this novel she wrote Christmas stories, I get the feeling that happy endings are more her style. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good happy ending (I do read a lot of young adult fiction). But in this case it just felt like a cop out.

It also dawned on all of us as we were discussing the book that, duh!, Donna VanLiere is a Christian writer…at which point we decided to dub this monthly meeting of the minds The Accidental Christian Book Club. 

Coming soon…my review of Divergent

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