Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Book Review: The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
The Wednesday Letters blurb from Amazon: "Jack and Laurel have been married for 39 years. They've lived a good life and appear to have had the perfect marriage. With his wife cradled in his arms, and before Jack takes his last breath, he scribbles his last "Wednesday Letter." When their adult children arrive to arrange the funeral, they discover boxes and boxes full of love letters that their father wrote to their mother each week on Wednesday. As they begin to open and read the letters, the children uncover the shocking truth about the past. In addition, each one must deal with the present-day challenges. Matthew has a troubled marriage, Samantha is a single mother, and Malcolm is the black sheep of the family who has returned home after a mysterious two-year absence. The Wednesday Letters has a powerful message about forgiveness and quietly beckons for readers to start writing their own "Wednesday Letters."
I have heard tons of hype about this book and was so excited to get it at the book store during my Mommy Weekend Away. I picked the book up Monday and slowly worked my way through it, finishing Tuesday evening. I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed with it. In each chapter, there are multiple point-of-view changes, to the point that I often found myself asking, "Who's thinking or saying that?"
I loved the letters Jack wrote to his wife, Laurel. I often found myself laughing or just enjoying the stories he told his wife through the letters. But the parts of the book that were about their kids I found rather blah - actually, more like blah, blah, blah.
I know I was supposed to be "intrigued" by Malcolm's two year absence, but when I found out he left the country because of a fist fight while trying to save his best friend from being sexually attacked, I thought it was the stupidest motive to leave the country in the world. And because he left the country, saving his best friend who also happens to be the woman he loves, he loses her to the guy who set the whole thing up to get rid of Malcolm. Ultra stupid, not to mention weak, motives.
I couldn't figure out the deal with Matthew and his wife. I mean, if both my parents had suddenly died, I wouldn't care how busy things were at my hubby's work or if we were hoping for a phone call to adopt a baby - he'd better be right there beside me as I dealt with the grief and making all those funeral arrangements. Hasn't the author ever heard of calling the adoption agency, filling them in, and leaving an alternate contact number? Then, right before the funeral, the wife shows up with a picture of the baby boy they are going to adopt and suddenly, all the strife and martial problems they had been dealing with just melt away. It's a good thing I know this book is fiction or I'd go out and adopt a baby to smooth out all my marital difficulties.
Then we have Samantha, the single mother. For being a single mother, there were very few mentions of her daughter or any interaction between them in the book. Having been raised by a single mother, I felt her role as a single mom was very unrealistic. Although I totally related to her older-sister-keeping-everyone-together role. I have an older sister who played that role when my mom died. I was nineteen and my brother was seventeen. She was the glue that held us all together. I saw a lot of my sister in Samantha's sisterly role.
I did have one other issue with the book. Spoiler Warning: If you haven't read the book and are still planning to - don't read this paragraph. It will spoil the ending! So at the end of the book, you find out that the man who raped Laurel, which resulted in her pregnancy with Malcolm, went to prison, then became a pastor. A pastor! First of all, maybe this does happen in other congregations. But I distinctly remember back when I attended my local Methodist church and we were changing pastors, all of the controversy and nit-pickiness of the congregation members. Many pastors applied for our church congregation and there were so many interview questions, including his stand on abortion and his thoughts on several different gospel perspectives. Our pastor had to be spic -n- span clean - his wife and family, too. So there is no way in heck a man with a criminal record, especially one that involved rape, would be ordained and hired to care for a family congregation. He does mention holding services at the local prison, but in the book he spends a lot of time with another pastor, attending that congregation, speaking and caring for the congregation members. In fact, he is one of the pastors for Malcolm's parents. Which is totally unrealistic. I believe in forgiveness, but that doesn't mean I would want the man who raped me to be a leader of my church congregation.
Even though the story was rather blah, I did walk away with a better appreciation for handwritten letters. In fact, I sat down and wrote my sister a brief note before sending her a package and I wrote postcards to each member of my sunbeam class at church. So there was some redeeming value from the book. Was it enough to recommend it to my friends? Probably not.
My rating for this book: Two Stars
Review Disclaimer: Sometimes a book I review has been sent to me for free by a publisher or an author. This in no way effects my review, which is my own opinion about whether the book was a good read for me, fit my tastes, and if I would recommend it to others. Other than possibly a free book, I am not compensated in any way for posting a review.