The Reunion

Friday, November 13, 2015

"Cleanliness is Next to Godliness" --John Wesley



When I was reviewing romance novels for the Kindle Book Review, I once had a run of books in which it seemed as if the main characters were falling into bed on every other page, and the reader was treated to descriptions of what the two of them were doing as they fell. After a while, these scenes became humorous, not because of what took place, but because they were so repetitive. It occurred to me that I likely could cut-and-paste between episodes and no one would notice. I even decided that the cutting and pasting could as easily be done between books as within them. While there is certainly a market for these books, many readers are not interested in reading them, and they find themselves searching, instead, for “clean” books.

“Clean,” in this context, is one of those words whose meaning you might know, but whose definition you might find difficult to verbalize. A Facebook group to which I belong, Clean Indie Reads, is composed of about 2300 authors who have an interest in clean fiction. The founder of the group has verbalized her definition of “clean” with three criteria, and books posted on her blog and on the group’s page should meet each of the three.


 1.         They contain no graphic violence or gore. There should be nothing that paints a very specific and horrific image in the reader’s mind. Scenes generally described as appropriate for war stories, crime stories, etc. may be present.
The Goodreads Clean Reads Group is composed of readers who frequent Goodreads, a well-known site devoted to books and reading. The members describe themselves as “a group for people who love to read a good book, but don't want to have to put it down one chapter in because of things that, if it were a movie, would make it R-rated (or even a racy PG-13).” On the issue of violence, they note that “Violence in PG-13 films may be intense, but must also be bloodless – see Jurassic World or any Marvel Movie, for example.”

Book Scout, a group that reviews and rates books for cleanliness, writes that in a clean book, “violence levels are either No violence, or Limited, Non-descriptive violence.”

One really finds little disagreement with regard to what constitutes violence or gore, and in my experience, few mainstream books fail this criterion.

I do recall, though, Dunham by Mariah Jovan. In the first chapter, Celia Bancroft leads a mutiny aboard the pirate ship on which she sails. In the space of a few pages, the former captain is decapitated and his head hung from the bow of the ship. Blood gushes as one sailor’s eyes are cut out, another loses his tongue, a third is impaled in an iron rod, and a dozen or more are knifed or hacked to death.

Dunham is certainly not a clean book on this count!

 2.         They contain no erotica or sexually explicit scenes. There should be nothing that gives a play-by-play description of a sexual encounter or describes nudity in detail. Mild innuendo, reference to sensual or sexual activity that is “off screen” and not graphically portrayed may be used in some books written for adults.

Book Scout defines three “heat levels” for books they will list:

1          No Sex – The main characters do not have sex and have limited physical intimacy during the time frame of the book.

2          Sex Off the Page – The main characters have a sexual relationship which is not represented on the page. Physical intimacy on the page is limited.

3          Fade to Black – The beginning of sex scenes are represented on the page in limited detail but the scene fades to black.

“Fade to black” or “off-screen” was once THE technique for dealing with sex in motion pictures.

In one motion picture – I’ve long forgotten the name – the setting was a house beside the shore. It was night. A man and a woman, the main characters, began to kiss. As the action became more intense, the music rose and the camera drifted away, above their bed, focusing through a window on the harvest moon, its light reflecting on the ocean. The scene then cut immediately to the next morning and the woman was alone, walking on the beach. Only a clueless viewer would not know what had happened, but sex never appeared on the screen.

Here is a literary example from my first novel, The Reunion. In the story, Bill and Allison have been having dinner in her hotel room. He is preparing to leave.

 Well, if you don’t mind…can I ask you to do me a favor? Would you mind rubbing my shoulders before you go?”

Bill smiled and nodded. “Don’t mind at all. I’m actually very good at this. Strong hands.” He flexed and wiggled his fingers, then interlaced them and bent them back, cracking his knuckles.

She pulled off her t-shirt, and Bill began to massage her shoulders…His hands moved toward her lower back, catching on the lower strap of her bathing suit as they passed.

“Bill,” she whispered, “if the strap is in your way, unhook it. Take it off.”

 Bill left Allison’s room an hour later. She lay on the bed staring at the ceiling. Her eyes began to water. “I don’t believe what just happened,” she said to herself. “How could I have let it happen?”

 This criterion is a little more controversial than the first one. Some people, for example, might not include all three of the criteria, cutting the definition of clean at level two or even level one. On her blog, Kay Dacus distinguished among various types of romance novels. She writes that a typical rule in sweet and/or inspirational romances is "nothing below the shoulders", or, "shut the door, don't let the reader into the bedroom. In the same vein, Clean Read Books.com writes “if there are bedroom doors in the book, they must be closed.”

 3.         The authors have curtailed offensive language. There should be no use of the “F-word”. Other words commonly considered as swearing and/or racially offensive terms should be used very sparingly, if at all. If such words are present in an effort to mimic speech in times of great duress for a character (and not just peppered in gratuitously) (they may be used).

Consensus is perhaps more difficult to obtain on this criterion than on either of the others.

The “F- word “is a deal killer in most cases, but not all. In citing the motion picture standards, the Goodreads group writes that any swear words have to be used sparingly, and, in the event of the specific obscenity we politely call the F-word, not used in a sexual context. They note that You can say “Oh, (BLANK) this!” in a PG-13 film, but not more than once, and never “I’d love to (BLANK) Denise …”)

Other forbidden words vary. Book Scout states that a book must not include the words, “F-k, C-k, P-Y, or C-t.” They acknowledge an inability to be a hundred percent clear without posting the words they would not allow.

Some readers will object to any obscenity or profanity, even if the word is totally in character or is uttered in an exceptionally emotional context. In addition to the obvious candidates for exclusion, some will be unhappy with those words which, while they have obscene or profane origins, are used so commonly that the links to their sources are murky for most people (“Go suck an egg,” for example, or the English “bloody”).

Finally, there are euphemisms, words that “stand for” other words and whose meaning is perfectly clear, but which, in and of themselves, are not bad. For example, in my novel, Those Children Are Ours, a reader would find this passage during a cross-examination in court. The attorney is reading from an account of what the witness said. Is it clean? Or not?

 Kimi turned to the judge. “I’ll be using a few euphemisms here, Your Honor.” She looked back at the journal. “She pushed against my chest and she tried to hit me with her fists, but I caught her hands. She jerked away from me and growled like a wild animal. Then she screamed, ‘You take your flipping school and your flipping dissertation, and your flipping job, and your flipping children straight to flipping hell and you flip yourself.'"

 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote, “I know it when I see it.” Now, Justice Stewart was writing about pornography, perhaps the flip side of cleanliness, but his conclusion is valid here, too. Cleanliness lies in the beholder’s eye, and although we might quibble over some of the fine points (as we’ve seen), most of us know a clean book when we see (or read) it.

 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A review of Those Children Are Mine by Luccia Gray



Those Children are Ours is the story of Jennie, a dysfunctional young woman, who made a mess of her life due to unwise choices, mental illness, and alcoholism. Twelve years after walking out on her husband and two daughters, her life is back on track. Thanks to the passing of time, religion, and her psychologist, she no longer drinks or sleeps around. Her mental condition is under control and she is working as a teacher.

However, Jennie is still immature and insecure. She is also coping with personal problems, such as a drunk ex-boyfriend and a violent and unsupportive father. Surprisingly, she decides, or rather is convinced, that she wants to see her daughters again.

It takes her time to realize she can’t take up where she left off and expect everyone to forget and forgive how she destroyed the family she once had. Her ex-husband and his daughters’ lives have moved on, they have busy and well-organized schedules, and a step-mother and step-sisters they are very fond of. Jennie discovers she is an unwelcome and unloved intruder.

Although the events narrated are heart-wrenching, and the time period covered is long, from Jennie’s College Days to her mid thirties, it’s so fast paced and well written that it’s a pleasure to turn the pages and follow the evolution of Jennie’s dramatic and traumatic life. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I read it in two sittings. I especially enjoyed the court hearings and the realistic dialogues throughout.

It’s a disturbing, contemporary family drama, which makes the reader become involved and take sides. There are various generations and relatives involved; parents, step-parents and siblings, children, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts. It was hard for me to feel much sympathy for Jennie, especially at the beginning of the novel, but I gradually came to understand and feel compassion for her.

The author cleverly moves the narrative from, ‘Those children are mine’, a selfish cry from all of the adults involved, to a more balanced, ‘Those children are ours’, which appears on the final page. The way the characters and plot evolves to reach an unexpected, yet realistic and hopeful ending, makes the reading experience meaningful and thought-provoking.



Luccia Gray


 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review of Those Children Are Ours



I have found this book an extremely interesting read given that I have seen similar stories to this in my day job and have attended family court proceedings on a number of occasions. David Burnett has beautifully captured the dilemmas, heartbreak, grief and uncertainty about forgiveness when one parent abandons their children. The reader is forced to explore the issues around just how much can one person change and should they be given a second chance? What are the implications for the children. Is the risk worth it?


At the beginning of the story Jennie came across as a pretty mean and self centred person. Her parenting skills appeared to be non-existent and even as a reader I myself found it difficult to reconcile that picture of her with the one of a reformed character who has taken steps to turn her life around. The question always being one of uncertainty and wondering if elements of their old life would resurface. However, Jennie appears to have gained valuable insight into her actions of the past and counselling and involvement with the church have helped her on a road to recovery and acceptance of the past. Acceptance that there were other factors influencing her behaviour. The big question for Jennie is............can she convince her ex husband and her children that she poses no threat and only wants to be part of her children's lives? 


 A well written book with many interesting angles and points of view to consider. I really enjoy David Burnett's books and this one has proven to be another great read from him.


Brook Cottage Books


 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sequels and Season Finales

As this year’s television season wound to an end, my wife and I found ourselves almost obsessively attending to the schedule, anxious not to miss the final episodes of our favorite programs. Many years we have found ourselves out of town in mid-May, out of the country even, and we would be unable to catch the season finales. Just a few years ago, when streaming was not as prevalent, not seeing the programs in May meant that we would be forced to wait until the end of the summer to view them as re-runs.

This year, we were at home and ready.

Two of the series which we most enjoy had very different finales.

NCIS is a police drama which differs from the others of that genre because the detectives are “navy cops,” as their detractors sometimes call them. Their mission is to investigate crimes that involve the U. S. Navy or its personnel. In the finale’s last scene, we find Gibbes, the principal character, lying in a roadway, perhaps dying, in a Middle Eastern city, shot by a preadolescent jihadist from America. Does he survive? Does he return to fight crime another day?

A classic cliffhanger, the intent is for the audience to ponder these questions for the next four months and to be planted in front of their sets in late September, eager to learn the outcome. Some of you will recall the near hysteria that gripped American audiences in the spring, summer, and fall of nineteen-eighty (there was a writer’s strike that year, postponing the new season) as they waited to find out who shot J.R.

Castle is another police drama (we watch a number of programs which our daughter assigns to the category of Mon’s weird cop shows). Kate Beckett is a New York City homicide detective, married to a best-selling author. As the last episode concludes, the mystery that plagued the characters through the season has been resolved, Kate’s current case has been wrapped up, and she, her team, and her friends celebrate. She has been offered a promotion to captain. She has also been urged to run for the state senate. As one of the other detectives says, everything is going to change.

With a television series, the next year’s season is like the sequel to a book, continuing the story, taking us on new adventures.

A story and its sequel relate to each other in one of three ways.

First, the two stories may be independent. While some characters may appear in both stories, while the sequel may reference events from the original, each story stands alone. Either one may be read and enjoyed without the other.

Second, the sequel may assume so much of the original story that it makes little sense if the original has not been read. The author may attempt to provide the back story, but there is a limit to how much of past can be rehashed without distracting from the present.

Finally, the first story may be so incomplete that one must read the sequel to have any idea what happens to the characters. I’ve seen this last pattern several times recently. I think of a novelette whose story had reached a point of tension and the story …stopped. It was as if a door had slammed shut. Of course, there was a sequel coming soon.

I enjoy books with happy endings, but, whether it is happy, or not, the ending must be satisfactory. In another essay, I suggest that the two are not the same. I assert that a story ends happily when the main character gets what she wants, and that it ends a satisfactorily when she obtains what she needs. Satisfaction is more important than happiness.

Dr. Hannah Harvey, in her “Great Course” The Art of Storytelling, elaborates on what it means for a story to have a satisfactory ending, suggesting at least three characteristics: the story must be complete, its meaning must be clear, and there must be a plan of action.

Completeness is the most basic of the three. When a story is complete, the major issues raised by the story, the relationships between the characters, the problems inherent in the plot, have all been addressed. There are no loose ends. The reader is not left wondering, what was that all about.

Clarity exists when the reader understands the point that the author was trying to make. Stories are seldom simply accounts of what the characters do and what happens to them. The author always knows more about the characters than he chooses to tell, and he selects those events that he wants to include. The selection process is not a random one. Events are chosen to reflect a theme, to make a point, or to define a character. In a satisfactory conclusion, the reader understands the purpose of the story.

A plan of action means that the issues raised by the story have been solved and that the characters are ready to move on to something else. Character’s lives do not end on the final page of the book. If they did, sequels would not even be possible! Even without a sequel, though, their lives continue. In a satisfactory conclusion, the reader has some idea of what might happen next. Even if all the reader knows is that they lived happily ever after, she knows in general what comes next.

The season finales represent two of the possible relationships between an original and a sequel and the

NCIS, as I noted, was a cliffhanger, so, by definition, the story was incomplete. Unless I tune in next fall, I will have no idea how the story ends. The point of the story is unclear. Was it written as an illustration of senseless murder? Was it about a changing of the guard? That is, does the agent die, leaving a new person in command of the unit? Was it/ will it be a story of redemption for the teen-aged boy who fired the shot that brought the agent down? With neither of these issues clear, there can hardly be any kind of plan of action or path into the future.

In Castle, there are no lose ends. The season’s plot lines have been tied off. We understand that Kate and her husband are the ultimate crime-solvers, and we know that she is on her way either to the captain’s chair or to the senate.

Now, I enjoy NCIS and I may be watching in September to see what happens, but the Castle finale had much a more satisfactory conclusion and the sequel (next season) will certainly get my attention.

So it is with books. The cliffhanger might catch me, or it might not. I do not always read sequels. The good story with a satisfactory ending, though, will stay with me. I may construct various scenarios for the characters’ futures. And if there is a sequel, I will grab it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

“Where did you get the idea for your story?”


We have all heard the injunction that one should “write what one knows,” and some readers believe that authors take this suggestion literally. As a result, they see each story as a reflection of events in the author’s life, or at least, of events about which the author has direct knowledge.

Some authors do this. Their books are considered to be memoirs, and they recount events which happened to the author, his friends, or his family.

In other cases, the author may begin with a real events and either modify them or embellish them. Perhaps the details are altered. Perhaps the story is set in a different location or in a different time period. Maybe the ending is changed completely. The story is based in reality, but it is refashioned through the author’s imagination. I think of one prominent writer from the America South who does this. Unfortunately his writing style changes as he moves from fact to fiction, so an attentive reader can identify which parts of his stories are factual and which are not.

Several years ago, a character in a popular television police drama began to write crime novels. His characters were based on people he knew co-workers, friends, the barista at his coffee shop. He changed the names’ of course, but sometimes minimally. In one episode, a crazed fan lost the distinction between fact and fiction and began murder the people on whom the characters were based.

When I completed my first novel, The Reunion, my wife thought at first that I had used a similar strategy. As she read the book, she tried to identify the person on whom each character was based. She and I, she decided, were the central characters, Allison and Michael. One of our daughters must be their child, she thought. The woman who was chasing Michael must be her high school nemesis. Since my wife was only halfway through the book I suggested that she take care in claiming to be Allison, since in a few pages, Allison would engage in some rather inappropriate behavior!

So where do I get my ideas?

Although my stories are fiction, some of the specific events in my books really have happened. In The Reunion, Michael attends his high school reunion, and his friends discuss their high school chemistry teacher. They recount an incident in which Michael and one of his friends turned on a Bunsen burner and shot a flame across the room, hitting their teacher as he bet over a desk talking with another students. The incident really did occur, although I embellished the account, a bit.

In my novel, The Handfasting, I recount one character’s attempt to avoid the America military draft in the early nineteen seventies by getting married. There was a point in time before which married men could not be conscripted into the Army. As the policy was about to change, some men proposed marriage in their efforts to avoid military service. My brother, jokingly perhaps, talked of doing just that.

In To Fall in Love Again, one important scene is set at the annual ball sponsored by an exclusive club. The ball, itself is real. So is the sponsoring society. Some of the customs that are described are at least said to be true. The specific events are pure fiction.

I may be able to tell you where I find the conflicts that drive my stories. For The Reunion, I was listening to a sermon. The preacher talked about a man who had done something that was evil, but had immediately repented. He wanted a chance to live that time over, to have a replay, if you will. My story is about a man who wanted to relive his time in high school.

We occasionally read of two people, lovers perhaps, who have been re-united after a separation of many years. The Handfasting deals with Katherine and Stephen, two people who were engaged to be married, but who were separated for a decade.

To Fall in Love Again is the story of a man and a woman in their mid-fifties who suddenly find themselves unmarried, a situation that seems to occur with increasing frequency. Many of us know people who have found themselves in this situation.

The story, though, the plot, where do I find it?

It has been suggested that there are, at most, thirty-six unique plot lines and that every story is simply a variation of one of these. As a result, Romeo and Juliet, the Hatfields and the McCoys, and Westside Story are simply variations on the theme of young lovers whose families are implacable enemies. Cinderella and The Great Gatsby each recounts a story of an impoverished person who falls in love someone in a higher social class.

So, one might ask, where do I get the specific variation that is my story? The specific events, the conversations, the locations, where do I find them?

Well, I don’t know. It is sort of like magic!

In the Second Chance Café, the author writes of a young woman who weaves beautiful scarves. They sell in upscale stores around the country and are often seen wrapped around the bodies of movie stars and celebrities. Each scarf is unique. How does she decide on the colors, the pattern, for a new scarf? She describes the process in this manner:

 “I don’t know how you do that,” her father said, looking at the collection (of yarn) she held and shaking his head.

Honestly, neither did she. To this day, she could not explain how the colors came together in her mind. How one flowed into another as she sat at her loom. How the different strands of story became a whole. “I just see it. I don’t know where it comes from. Any of it. It’s just there.”

 This is how it is with writing. The author doesn’t know where the specific events come from. Any of them. The author begins to write and they’re just there.

 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Telling and Writing


Have you ever heard of a professional storyteller? Not an author who writes stories, but storyteller, one who tells them?

The instructor for one the “Great Courses,” The Art of Storytelling., is such a person. In addition to telling stories, she teaches storytelling at the college level. I purchased her course, reasoning that there must be similarities between stories that are written and those that are oral, and that what I learned could help me to be a better author.

In an early lesson, the instructor introduces the “story telling triangle.” The triangle is composed of the storyteller, the story, and the audience, and the instructor suggests that each element in the triangle influences each of the others.

For example, the storyteller shapes the story by the words he chooses to use and by the specific elements of the story that he chooses to include or to emphasize.

The story, in turn, affects the teller. We don’t choose stories at random, but we tell stories that are important to us. My story may be drawn from my religious background, it may reflect a legend that is important in my culture, or it may be based on something that happened to me. Our stories help to shape the ways that we view our world.

Similar interactions occur between the story and the audience and the story teller and the audience. Each has an effect on the other.

A major difference between telling a story and writing a book (or a script for a motion picture or a short story) is that in a book, the audience (the reader) does not directly interact with the other parts of the triangle.

A storyteller can present her story in different ways to different audiences. She can modify her story as she tells it. She may gain a deeper understanding of her story from the reactions of those who hear it.


A reader, however, can affect neither the story, nor the author because author can neither nor observe nor listen to the reader as he writes. Once the story is written, it is fixed, the same for every reader who opens the book.


I review books for the Kindle Book Review, and as a result, I frequently read romance novels. Too often, the plots involve men who treat women shabbily in one way or another. I often have the urge to tell the author, “I don’t like him.” Of course, I can say this in my review, but my review won’t change the story. If I were listening to the story, though, my reaction might have some effect.


Can you recall a book with an unsatisfactory conclusion? I once wrote a blog post, maintaining that stories do not always need happy endings, but they should always have satisfactory ones. I recall one book, in particular, in which a young woman was in a coma. For most of the book, you root for her to recover. As you almost reach the last page, she is disconnected from life support, and takes a breath. A final breath. She dies.


Had the author been watching my reaction, she would have known my feeling about her conclusion!

This author actually considered revising the ending, and I told her that I thought she should, but readers seldom have his opportunity. Written works can be “auditioned” and revised before publication, of course. Authors may have “beta readers,” who read and react to their work. An editor may suggest revisions. Nevertheless, once publication has occurred, a book is seldom withdrawn for revision.


If authors want the immediate feedback that storytellers receive, they must imagine their audiences and visualize how readers might react to the plot line, to the word choices, and to the specific lines of dialogue that compose the story. Sometimes, authors imagine the reactions of specific people. I do this. As I write, I will mentally hear a line read aloud, and I will imagine what some person, one of my daughters, perhaps, would say or think upon reading that line. If I don’t like her reaction, I will modify it.


Beyond this, books are written with specific groups of readers in mind, and the author will imagine what members of those groups might think if they were to read his story. Books written for an audience of women, for example, will be different from books written primarily for men. We might well imagine that Nicholas Sparks and Ian Fleming had very different audiences in mind when Sparks wrote The Notebook and Fleming penned his series on James Bond.


The group whose response the author imagines as he writes determines, in a large part, the book’s genre. Those of us who write romance novels assume that most of our readers will be women. If I were to write Christian fiction, I would be concerned about the reactions of Christians. Science fiction authors anticipate different audiences than do those who write fantasy. An author of literary fiction expects to reach a different set of readers than does one who writes steampunk.


The potential readers who the author imagines do not form an exclusive group! Many men read Nicholas Sparks’s novels and women enjoy James Bond. I’ve read and enjoyed both. The group the genre is important, though. It dictates all sorts of things about the book, from the content to the language used – formal vs. informal, for example –to how the book is marketed the “look” of the cover, the description, the sites on which a book is promoted, to name a few.


As I write, I’ve come to see that, perhaps, writing stories and telling them may not be so different, after all. Writers do not work without audience feedback; they simply work with imagined feedback. And after all, imagining the world is what writers do.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Love Never Ends

“Why write a Romance about two fifty-somethings?” I was asked.

My knee-jerk reaction: Why not?

While teen-agers may think that the need for companionship, romance, and love withers and dies as one enters the third decade of life, surely no one else seriously believes that people over fifty do not fall in love. If you do share the adolescents’ belief, however, then you, like they, are quite mistaken. We cross no great chasm as we age. There is no line drawn in the sand over which we step and poof! we are ancient. We need love when we are young; we need love when we are old.

Romance is not the property of young adults, and novels quite realistically are written about those who are several generations older than the twenty-year olds who traditionally inhabit the world of Romance. My new book, To Fall in Love Again, tells the story of Amy and Drew, She is fifty-five; he is fifty-seven. And they fall in love.

Believe it, or not, none of us sees ourselves as old!

In The Thorn Birds, a novel by Colleen McCullough, Mary Cleary Carson, the seventy-two year old matriarch of the Cleary family, has what today’s high school students might call a “major crush” on Father Ralph de Bricassart, the handsome young priest who is the family’s spiritual advisor and friend. The night before she dies, she tells him that she loves him. He denies her feelings, and she responds, angrily.  

You're wrong. I have loved you. God, how much! Do you think my years automatically preclude it? Well, Father de Bricassart, let me tell you something. Inside this stupid body I'm still young-I still feel, I still want, I still dream, I still kick up my heels and chafe at restrictions like my body…

McCullough perfectly captures the feelings of those over thirty, or forty, or wherever you draw the line between young and old. Those on the north side of that line know that, inside, they are no different from the way they were twenty or thirty years before.

Books with older characters are not new, and I expect we will see more of them in the years ahead. Our population is aging, and in a guest post in Publishing Perspectives, Claude Nougat, a former project director for the United Nations, wrote on the topic, Is Baby Boomer Lit the Next Hot Genre?

A baby boomer, a “boomer,” is anyone born between nineteen forty five, following the Second World War, and nineteen sixty four, when the birth rate bubble that followed the war began to deflate. Boomers are now between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine and there are over seventy-seven million of them in the United States and twenty million in the United Kingdom. Nougat writes that they are retiring in large numbers, that they have free time, money, and that they like to read. She compares Boomer Lit to YA, a genre that came into its own when boomers were approaching age twenty.

Both genres target issues with which people are concerned at crucial transition points in their lives. YA addresses problems confronted by children as they morph into adults. Boomer Lit deals with issues of concern to adults who are adjusting to the prospect of growing older. These are issues which are important to boomers, today, and which will be important to other generations as the make this transition in the years ahead.In To Fall in Love Again, for example, Drew and Amy have each lost a spouse, one to cancer, the other in an accident, and both are struggling with the prospect of loving someone new, experiences being faced by increasing numbers of people over the age of fifty.

It is a mistake, though, to conclude that the issues that Drew and Amy face are peculiar to people of their age. They are not. Many of the issues addressed by YA and boomer lit are the same. Am I in love? Can I trust him? What will my family think? Is it possible to fall in love a second time? These questions are timeless.

Boomer lit is not only for older adults, any more than YA is only for adolescents. One benefit of reading is that books allow us to view our world from the perspectives of those who are different from us. When our stories concern characters from a generation not our own, we find that, while the problems they face are much the same as ours, they will understand them in different ways. And we can learn from each other.

Originally Posted on


Brook Cottage Books

January 22, 2015



Friday, January 2, 2015

Review of To Fall in Love Again

MY THOUGHTS
Now this is a story that I can identify with. When I was young, I found myself unexpectedly widowed and it still crushes me to this day. I felt it was my duty not to get married to anyone else (despite a conversation we had when he was alive). Still I was young and wanted to have a loving companion. Finally, I met a man who was compassionate and seemed to be able to do anything (both things Husband and my first love had/have in common). So, Love does find some people twice and there is sadness and beauty and new beginnings.

In this story, Drew and Amy lost their spouses for entirely different reasons. Drew went through a process where he lost bit by devastating bit. And...I kind of wonder if Amy ever had her spouse to begin with. One of them embraces healing and the other goes through a breakdown of sorts. Everyone has an opinion on the relationship that Drew and Amy have...it seems to be true love and then all the doubts set in. There are friends, enemies, and even the diseased spouses weighing in on the topic or how they feel relationships should be. Among Amy's strongest advocates is Drew's grandson....I just wanted to hug this little fictional boy. 

And, as I sit typing this, I realize that Billy Joel's "A Matter of Trust" will now be going through my head for days.
5 out of 5 stars for pulling at my heartstrings and making me think important things. :-)
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