Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Selling the Lite of Heaven - Suzanne Strempek Shea

Summary: There it was in The Pennysaver--nestled among the other classified ads bravely singing out their romantic wares--each cleverly written heading masking a story of broken dreams. But who would believe hers? Who in her small western Massachusetts town would believe that the dutiful only daughter of Stanislaus and Edna, having against all odds and her mother's expectations finally found true love, has not only been left at the altar but for it? That she's a woman who has been left for God?

Fittingly, her holy alliance with Eddie Balicki had begun in church, just after he mysteriously abandoned the big city and moved back to his boyhood town. One glimpse is all it took.

His hands were folded in a way you only see in First Communion photos or in portraits of the Pope--fingers meeting exactly and pointing toward heaven, thumbs crossed and locked...With his eyes closed, he looked like he should have been a statue up on the altar, reeling in the ecstasy of what he already knew about heaven.

But now the worst has happened. In one ghastly moment on Good Friday, her brightly lit future, her technicolor dreams, have turned to black and white. She has died and he has gone to heaven. (Summary from book and image from

My Review: Where to begin? It read like a first novel that needed a good editor. So many sentences were convoluted or just plain wordy. Words were used incorrectly and not just occasionally. My first complaint about this book revolves around the fluency, or lack thereof.

My second issue deals with the style. I don't mind flashbacks or baiting the reader, but this book went beyond that. There were points in the story where I wasn't sure if it was present time or a flashback because it jumped around so much. Sadly, by the time this was a regular occurrence I didn't care to find out.

My third issue deals with the descriptions. I do not care what kind of leather finish is on the inside of his car. I do not care the color of her hideous sweater. I do not care about the multitude of descriptions that within 30 pages I started blasting past in an attempt to keep my interest in the book. It's one thing to describe objects that matter or characters. It's a totally different thing to describe the minute details of everyday objects, especially ones that have nothing to do with the storyline.

My last and final issue revolves around plot. What a pathetic character. What a boring life. How much more like a teenager could she behave at the ripe old age of 30+. She internally swoons over Eddie, noticing the craziest little things and obsesses about him: his bed that he slept in as a child, his uber-clean car, his hands as he prays. She has these crazy little daydreams or fantasies (depending on the situation) where she lives this false life or pretends to watch Eddie grow up. Not only is it annoying to read, it's totally weird.

She's a woman living at home with her parents--who are incredibly insensitive and curt with her--working at the local photo shop, with no goals, no hobbies besides TV and knitting, and has no desire to change a thing. That is, except to somehow get her ex-fiance's attention back now that he's left her at the altar to become a priest. And no, I didn't just give away the entire story. She tells you that at the beginning of the book. Frankly, with how depressing, monotonous, and lacking in story line it is, I'm not sure what makes a reader want to finish this book.  You already know how it ends from her confession in the first pages, so why bother?

Don't waste your time. Halfway through, I didn't.

My Rating: 1 Star

Sum it up: One long, pathetic story about a pathetic girl.


Suzanne Strempek Shea said...

Thanks for reading my book, Kari!

Anonymous said...

Honestly I couldn't agree with a review more. This book is terrible.


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