In celebration of 25,000 views of my blog, I’ve decided to give away one hardback copy of Rachel Coker’s debut novel, Interrupted – life beyond words! You can find my review of the novel below, along with links to the author if you want to read more about her.
Summary (Inside Cover):
Can love really heal all things? If Sam Carroll hadn’t shown up, she might have been able to get to her mother in time. Instead, Allie Everly finds herself at a funeral, mourning the loss of her beloved mother. She is dealt another blow when, a few hours later, she is sent from Tennessee to Maine to become the daughter of Miss Beatrice Lovell, a prim woman with a faith Allie cannot accept.
Poetry and letters written to her mother become the only things keeping Allie’s heart from hardening completely. But then Sam arrives for the summer, and with him comes many confusing emotions, both toward him and the people around her. As World War II looms, Allie will be forced to decide whether hanging on to the past is worth losing her chance to be loved.
After my review of Heather Burch’s Halflings (which was fantastic), Zondervan Publishing (a Christian press) sent me three more books to review for them. (Sorry, Zondervan, that it’s taken so long). I looked through the three and after finding out Rachel Coker, the author of Interrupted, life beyond words, was only 15 years old when she wrote the book, I jumped on reading this one first.
I had no idea what to expect. I very rarely read historical fiction and the Christian genre was far from my normal urban fantasy/paranormal/fantasy reading material, but it did have a nice ring to it and the blurb caught my interest.
The book opens in 1939 and Alcyone (“Allie”) has turned fourteen. Not long afterwards, her mother dies from a long battle with brain cancer and Allie is ripped away from her home to live in Maine with Beatrice Lovell, a religious woman she doesn’t even know. She has to leave all her worldly possessions behind, as well as her obnoxious ‘friend’, Sam Carroll. Allie is bitter and angry and she has every right to be, but she holds on to this anger and bitterness far too long for my liking. While other characters didn’t seem to care about Allie or the fact she’d just lost her mom, I didn’t think it was justifiable for Allie to carry the anger and hurt for as long as she did or lash out at those who were trying to help her the most. There was one scene I wanted to jump inside the book and grab Allie and yell at her. I wanted to know why she had to be so hurtful to Beatrice after everything this woman had done for her. I don’t know if I should praise Coker for forcing my emotions with Allie or be irritated with the author for dragging on Allie’s anger for far too long. I think a bit of both is required.
I thought the characterizations in the novel were the author’s strong point. All of them leapt off the page. Irene was one of my favorites with her spunky attitude and her bright pink car. I didn’t even know they had pink cars in the 1940s. Allie’s friend, Charlie, is vivacious and cute and I love the way they meet, and there are not enough words to say what I feel about Sam. He’s adorable and he’s always had a thing for Allie, following along behind her like a little puppy dog from the time they were kids. He made me smile and wish all boys and men could be so charming and wonderful. He was so patient and loveable and sweet and always had a positive attitude. The scene where he returns to Allie’s life after her mother’s funeral was handled beautifully and he is the perfect antidote for this withdrawn teen. His patience and forgiveness was admirable and exactly what Allie needed to find her way.
As for Coker’s writing style, I could tell this was a first novel. Even though the story was enjoyable to read, at times I found it a bit spotty, jumping from scene to scene and place to place. This may have been due to editorial cuts rather than a lack of writing by the author, but I thought it worth mentioning. Overall, I felt the story flowed well and the reader gets a real sense of the struggles and internal turmoil Allie faces. When Allie is taken away and she has to say good-bye to the house and her beloved kitty, I have to admit, Coker pulled at my heartstrings.
The story revolves around World War II and it reminded me of stories my own mom told me of the women who waited patiently to find out if they’d ever see their fiancées or husbands again. It was a poignant look at what women go through when the men they love are away at war. There was one tiny mention of a young woman and her engagement ring and I have to admit, it choked me up a bit.
The story does get religious toward the end. I was expecting it as Allie was not religious in the beginning of the book, and seeing the way the story progressed, I knew religion would play into her self-realization and coming about. I did feel at times it bordered on ‘preachy’, but only slightly. After all, this is Allie’s story and her changing. I thought, however, there was an extreme shift in Allie’s character – going from someone who didn’t believe in God to someone who prays like God’s been in her life from the day she was born. There wasn’t a transition. There wasn’t’ a moment where it felt like she was uncomfortable praying or questioning whether it would even work of if she was doing it right. I think there needed to be that for her character to be sincere. Again, this could have been an editorial change. It seemed slightly abrupt to me.
In spite of the few minor niggles I had, I really enjoyed Interrupted and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a heart-warming, quick read that will lift your spirits. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more stories from this remarkable young lady. I give Interrupted 4 stars out of 5.
Links to Rachel Coker
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a hardback copy of Interrupted – life beyond words. Unfortunately, due to tight money belt, the giveaway is only open to residents in the continental United States.
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All entries will be chosen randomly and the winner will be announced on my blog on June 16. The winner will have one week to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with his/her mailing information. If I do not hear from the winner within seven days, another name will be drawn.
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