Saturday, September 19, 2009

FitG Update: Just Like That


Wow wow wow.

I haven't done this since I read the Anne of Green Gables series as a fourteen year old.

I actually finished this book in a matter of hours. I stayed up late reading Just Like That last night. Then I woke up early this morning, and lay in bed for awhile thinking how stupid it was to lie in bed awake thinking about a book when I could be getting up and reading it. So I pushed the warm covers aside, curled up in a comfy chair in the front room, and finished it.

Finished it. Mothers of four young children don't usually do this sort of thing.

Wham bam thank you ma'am. I need to make another trip to the library.

I wasn't surprised when I read the author's bio on the back jacket flap after I finished the book. Marsha Qualey has written quite a few books, and her writing shows it. She's a smooth writer, confident in the world she has created, and her characters are interesting and realistic.

And she wrote a great first chapter. I've never been so hooked by a first chapter in my life.

The book is deeply secular, so don't read it expecting any profound revelations. I guess what hooked me the most was just the unpredictability of it all. Qualey and I must have completely different ways of thinking about things, about life, because the characters said and did things I wasn't expecting at all. And I liked that. It was refreshing.

There was a dark thread running throughout with themes of death and loss, so it wasn't a shallow book by any means. But at the same time the book didn't answer any questions. It told a simple story with a satisfying ending. And that was all. It didn't preach at you. I also liked that.

The simple story with a complicated problem -- two people thrown together by tragedy -- was the perfect showcase for deliciously multi-layered characters. The main character Hanna is incredibly interesting. I'd always heard that your main character is supposed to be the most interesting person in your book, but I couldn't find a lot of examples of this in the fiction I was reading. I mean, think of Charles Dickens, for example. His main characters tend to be a little boring. It's his cast of supporting actors that are the fascinating ones. They always drive the plot, tinker with the main character's destiny, throw those splashes of flamboyant color into his work.

In Just Like That, Hanna truly is the most interesting character. That's not to say the other characters aren't interesting too; they are. But Hanna is outspoken, bold, determined, stubborn, and likable without being over the top. Best of all, she's unpredictable. You don't know what she's going to do next, what she'll feel strongly about, how she'll exercise her unique combination of impulsiveness and restraint. She's intuitive and strong. She does things in this book I would never have the gumption to do. And she makes dumb mistakes sometimes, too. Like we all do.

So, on my next trip to the library -- which might even be TODAY -- I'm going to check the shelves for other Marsha Qualey books. I'm not sure how long I can go without a good night's sleep, but I may have to get a stack of Marsha Qualey and see how long I can hold out.

I'm a glutton for punishment.

1 comment:

  1. Well. That's a book review that makes me dig into paperbackswap.com and see if I can find one! Thank you!

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