Monday, October 19, 2020

Someone to Watch Over - William Schreiber

Summary: Lennie Riley's life was destined for rock bottom the day her mother died delivering her forty-one years ago in the remote foothills of Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains.

At seventeen she flees town with a dangerous secret about her high school pregnancy that threatens to destroy her remaining family-a mine-worker father ill-equipped to raise her on his own and an ambitious older brother determined to escape their grinding life.

After two decades hiding from her past in the far reaches of Alaska, Lennie returns to Mosely, Tennessee, hoping to reconcile with her aging father and learn from him the fate of the now-grown child he forced her to give up as a teen. Neither of them ever knew they had been manipulated into the devastating decision by the town's powerful ruling family.

But before Lennie can reach her father, she's crushed to learn from her estranged brother, John, that their father has died.

All seems lost until Lennie discovers the rumored existence of guardakin angels in a distant corner of the Appalachian Mountains, through whom deceased parents can reach back from the beyond to help the children they've left behind.

Believing her deceased father can guide her to her child, Lennie sets out to find one of the angels. All the while, she battles her own self-doubt and the harsh realities hammered into her by her disbelieving brother, who accompanies her on a re-creation of a cherished childhood vacation in memory of their dad.

Meeting a sketchy Appalachian artist who claims to be the spiritual go-between she seeks, Lennie convinces herself she's come face-to-face with the divine, setting her on a collision course with her brother, who's convinced the folksy local is a con artist.

Forcing herself to trust in something she can't understand, Lennie crosses an unimaginable boundary and has fleeting encounters with her deceased parents, forcing her to confront what's real and what's nothing more than her heart's impossible longing, fueled by a desperate need to seek forgiveness from the child she feels she abandoned.

Finding answers hinges on her willingness to open up to life's biggest mystery, a leap of faith that will either end in redemption or devastation.
  (Summary and pic from

My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The summary for this book is very thorough, so if you’re wondering what its like; I think the summary gives a pretty good idea. That being said, I really am not a huge fan of women’s fiction. I do read some women’s fiction, and there are definitely books in the genre that I enjoy, but I would say that the Hallmark movie-type is not really my jam. I would definitely categorize this book in the Hallmark movie-type genre.

I think the reason why people like Hallmark movies and books of that genre are probably the same reasons I don’t necessarily like them: I don’t like clichés. I think clichés are lame, and when they are used, I don’t feel a shared connection of this life or an understanding of a situation, I feel like it is just really uncreative and overused. Also, I don’t like too much cheese. If a situation is too cheesy or things work out too well (especially if they’re working out in an unrealistic and unauthentic way), it feels cheesy. I also don’t like colloquialisms. I do like regional talk and descriptions that give me a sense of place, because I love a good atmosphere, but I don’t like cliché colloquialisms where they feel false and so cliché that they can’t possibly be real. I find this happens in a lot of Southern literature. I’m not from the South, so I don’t feel like I can say this definitely, but I do know that everyone can’t be all the same saying the same things and drinking their sweet tea just the same and such. Right? Or am I wrong…??

So now for Someone to Watch Over. The story itself was fine. It was a little non-linear in that the perspective jumped back and forth between the two protagonists, but it wasn’t necessarily confusing, it just wasn’t always consistent. Most of the story was told from the perspective of Lennie, who is the sister of John, the other protagonist. She has lots of cliché problems that someone who has had a hard life might have, and John alternately does not. He is the typical opposite of his sister—makes a ton of money, is super uptight, has the perfect life from the outside. They both come from a troubled background and have lots of history and such, and they’ve had to survive in their alternating ways—one is successful on the outside but messed up on the inside, and one is messed up on the outside but a fighter. I feel like you can see where this is going. The writing is decent, and although the book wasn’t really my jam, I felt like the characters were written in a way that if this is your thing, you could really connect to them and would enjoy their familiarity. 

The point is—I feel like if you are in to this sort of thing, you’re going to love this book. It has all of the things that make this type of book jive—characters with a past, they’re flawed but endearing; “Guardakin angels” (which is a term I just can’t get over for its cheesiness) and people from the Other Side who are helping to guide the characters along in their life’s journey; love and loss; a tale of redemption. I know I sound cynical, but I can immediately think of a lot of people in my life right now who are really into this kind of thing. And really, maybe our world needs more of this kind of thing—more gentle stories with people who struggle but have help and are able to make it.

My Rating: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and one description of rape that is not too graphic, although may be upsetting to some just because of the nature of the content. 

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