I almost didn't write a review of this horrid little book. But, I am a creature of habit and so I must. This month the book club pick was "Oceans Apart" by Karen Kingsbury. It was also not enjoyable for me. I knew it would be difficult to get through since the announcement of the book last month was followed up by a little disclaimer just for me along the lines of "oh, by the way, she's a Christian author". Don't get me wrong, I'm a spiritual person but I'm not the religious type and I prefer my reading not to be riddled with preaching. *sigh* However, I am in a book club to expand my horizons and many times a book I would NEVER have picked up if left to my own devices has turned out to be an amazing little gem. And I'm sure there are some who have rolled their eyes or muttered about some of my picks in the past as well. So I read it. Every 300+, painful pages.
The story is about an airline pilot who has a wife and two daughters and living a perfect life in Florida. But, his family doesn't know that he had a one-night stand eight years ago in Hawaii on a layover during a hurricane. What he doesn't know is that the chick got knocked up and he has a son. The woman gets killed in a plane crash - she's a stewardess - and her will states that her son should spend two weeks with his father (not knowing he is his father but rather his mother's friend) and then the guy can decide if he wants to keep him or he'll go up for adoption. Of course, knowing it is a Christian author, I bet you can't guess that it's a story about forgiveness. *gag* The convenient aspect is that the harlot stewardess was really a "good girl" who only ever slept with this pilot this one night and ended up pregnant. (Now it sounds like what my parents used to tell me when we'd have the 'don't have sex until you're married' talk... it only takes once!) Apparently she somehow fell in love with this one-night stand and pinned away for him and never loved anyone else. (Like that's realistic... NOT!) Now she is devoted to her son and God and thus the little boy is this bible reading 7-year old. Sorry, my eight year old isn't that advanced of a reader so I don't buy it!
The first problem was the preaching and heavy-handed shove-it-down-your-throat-on-every page religious bullshit. Seriously, I get that there is a market for people who want to read books with characters in them who share their religious beliefs. However, I do not believe there are any real people living who think or act like these characters did (and if there are, I don't want to know that they DO exist!). The book was more like a sermon with a little bit of a story thrown in for entertainment. But, remember, I knew this going in and could have overlooked it.
But then there was this problem of bad writing. How the hell does drivel like this get published? And I heard this author was a bestseller... and it wasn't her first book? The characters were so shallow it was like little walking cardboard puppets on popsicle sticks. The dialogue by the little boy was done so it sounded like he was 5 instead of 7. And, the ending was so badly foreshadowed that I knew exactly what was coming from about the third chapter and just kept waiting for her to get to it already. The descriptions lacked depth - I still don't have a clear picture of what the two daughters even looked like nor most of the main characters. "Handsome" doesn't really tell me anything, does it? But go ahead and tell me he's handsome over and over again! (Show, don't tell, people! It's the first lesson an author should learn!) And the religious stuff wasn't even woven into the story. Just all of a sudden the character would be spouting off about how "I know this is God's plan" without the benefit of hearing the human struggle of deciding that's what they were going to choose to believe. Plus the preaching was so repetitive... find a new phrase because you used that exact one two paragraphs ago, lady! The actual content of the story could have been summed up as a short story but instead was drawn out far too long.
I headed off tonight to book club not knowing how I was going to express my opinion about the book without hurting anyone's feelings. Remember, someone picked this book because they thought it was good. And, if I totally trash a book with little tolerance, how do I expect everyone to read my picks with the same tolerance, right? I was glad to hear that even the religious folks in the group thought the religion was over the top and left a bad taste in their mouths. Having the pleasure of being "the one non-religious one" of the group, I was pretty sure that everyone was wondering what I thought of it all. I decided not to voice an opinion on the religious aspect and see how long it took someone to ask me. One hour and seventeen minutes... ha ha! What I was not expecting was how many people chose to add layers of depth to the characters in the book that simply did not exist. They were giving them alterior motives for actions that had no basis in what was actually written. Some of it was good enough that they should seriously think about writing their own books because it was completely made up with nothing to back up their claims. All in all, by the time the end of the discussion came around it was clear that the majority of us held the same views as I did and the sappy ones who I assumed would like the book were the ones who did.
I hated this book enough that I actually wrote my first review ever on Amazon because I wanted a voice of reason out there for others like me that might be tempted to pick it up based on all the glowing reviews. Trust me, skip this one for sure!