Life After Life, Five Days in Skye, The Yonahlossee Rising Camp for Girls, The Good Sister – Short Reviews

I can be a bit of a book juggler, which means that often times I have several half finished books laying around, waiting patiently to be finished. This weekend I made it my priority to finish up some books that had been lingering.

Life After Life by Jill McCorkle – Life after Life takes place in and around a nursing home in North Carolina. There was quite a bit of reflection for me on my own life as I read this, as almost everyone is staking stock and wondering about the  choices they made as they try to make the best of the time they have left. It took a while for me to get into this book. There are many, many characters, and the style was rambling as they flitted from thought to thought about their current situations as well as their regrets. I wish that the voices were more distinct. My interest waned as everyone seemed to run together in a litany of missed opportunities, complaints and mistakes. As the story unfolds it becomes more clear how all of them are interlinked, and I enjoyed the unraveling of some of those connections. McCorkle has many wonderful insights and poignant moments that were almost lost to me in the way the story was structured, but I have to admit to feeling moved by the end.

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano – I picked up Five Days in Skye on a whim. After reading Jessica Brockmole’s Letters from SkyeI was curious to see another story set on this island in Scotland, and Laureano features it and its beauty as much as she does the romance between a driven American business woman (with secrets!), and the equally driven Scottish businessman who sets out to lower her defenses and win her heart. Billed as Christian fiction, faith is a small part of the whole picture and not at all overbearing in this novel of mostly light and sweet romance, and yummy cuisine. I really enjoyed this story. Recommended.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani – The first fifty pages of this tale of a fifteen-year-old girl exiled to a North Carolina boarding school and horse camp got off to a slow start for me, but it’s one that I ended up enjoying immensely. While it’s very much about an affair of the heart gone wrong, and the immense consequences at stake for a young girl, it also says a lot about the detrimental effects of sheltered isolation, and how parents can engineer their children’s downfall in an effort to keep them safe. Though young, Thea is a strong and insightful heroine who recognizes the opportunity for her own salvation, though it comes at a price so steep that few would be willing to face and pay it. Disclafani does a fine job portraying the heartbreak and confusion in  awakening and transitioning from girl to woman. Recommended.

The Good Sister by Wendy Corsi Staub – Similar in plot and style to a Mary Higgins Clark novel of mad men, and missing and murdered girls and women, this felt like a throwback to the thrillers and mysteries I read in my youth. Likewise I think this probably would have been more satisfying to me when I was younger.  This was pretty heavy-handed with its message of getting off the internet and talking, which could be (is probably) true, but also a bit antiquated in the face of the ways we communicate these days. The execution of the crimes and the motives and rational were pretty thin,  but I did like the interactions between parents and tens. That’s probably a knee jerk reaction to all the absentee parents in fiction whenever teenagers are involved, so, yay parenting!

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