Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: "A Turn in the Road"

"A Turn in the Road" by Debbie Macomber
Originally published in 2011
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

Debbie Macomber's "A Turn in the Road" was tough for me to rate. Overall, I really liked the book. Debbie's writing style is easy to read and the plot was interesting, if somewhat predictable. But then again, another thing I like about Debbie Macomber's novels is that they're feel-good books that always have a happy ending, by nature making them predictable. Still, there were a few things that irked me about Debbie M.'s latest "Blossom Street" novel.

"A Turn in the Road" takes the main character, Bethanne, her ex-mother-in-law, and her daughter on a road trip from Seattle to Florida. The central plot is that Bethanne's ex-husband of six years -- who abandoned his wife and family for a younger woman after 20 years of marriage -- has suddenly seen the error of his ways and desperately wants to reunite his family. The problem is, Bethanne is a very different person than she was six years ago; she's come into her own and now operates a very successful party business. And toward the beginning of the cross-country road trip on which Bethanne plans to decide whether or not to give her ex-husband a second chance, she meets an unlikely man who makes her heart flutter and forces her to reconsider everything.

That's all well and good. I enjoyed the plot for the most part. But I was mildly annoyed at how completely and almost sickeningly nice and selfless Bethanne is to make such a valiant effort at giving her ex-husband another chance. She's convinced that for the sake of their 20-year marriage and their two (adult!) children, she must at least attempt to make things work. Nevermind the fact that her ex-husband cheated on her, abandoned her and never looked back for six years, or the fact that she doesn't really love him anymore. Such self-sacrifice just seems like such an antiquated position on marriage and family for modern times. I felt the same about a few other parts of the novel, such as when the womens' family members don't feel it's "safe" for them to travel across the country without a man along to protect them. I was also bothered by how immaturely Bethanne's 22-year-old daughter is portrayed. Not only is she whiny, selfish and clingy, she's convinced she can manipulate the situation to make her parents fall in love again. I realize that -- at 26 -- I'm not in the same age group as Debbie Macomber's target audience, but I enjoy reading her novels along with my mom so we can talk about them together.

Sometimes I just wish Debbie would get in step with women's views of the 21st century, or maybe I should say sightly younger women's views, or maybe just my views. But perhaps the very same facets of her novels that get on my nerves are what draws some women to them. Things like family, true love, morals, and strong men romancing and taking care of women are paramount in Debbie's novels but gradually waning in today's society. Debbie's books -- and plenty of other romance series -- are a way to recapture those ideals. Either way, I'd recommend sampling this or any of Debbie's books. For the most part, I think they're enjoyable and easy reads that leave me feeling satisfied... (and occasionally annoyed).

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