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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus



Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recommended Read: Wrapped In Rain

The Book: Wrapped In Rain
Author: Charles Martin
Published: 2005 (I'm a little slow on the draw, sorry.)
Rating: 5 out of 4 stars

No, that's not a typo.

This book was better than your everyday 4 out of 4 really good book.

So good, in fact, that I actually struggled with how to write my review. Book reviews are very subjective. But sometimes a book really does transcend its competitors.

From my experience, about 75% of the books published are average. Another 20% are good. 4% very good. And way up at the top of the ceiling, just before your head bumps and flakes off the popcorn spray motif, is that rarified 1% of books that are just over the edge great.

Having said that, you might be surprised to learn that I was tempted to put the book down after about 45 pages. It's true. For me, parts of the opening 40 or so pages dragged a lot. The truck stop scene in particular was written in excruciating detail, to the point I wanted to bang my head on the desk. If a friend hadn't recommended this author to me, I probably would have stopped there and went on to some other book.

But I'm sooooooo glad I didn't give up.

Martin has a wonderful way of weaving a story together. Setting is so vivid, characters so real--and deep-- that you can't help but be drawn in. Drawn in to the point of thinking about them after you close the book. The majority of the books I read, I forget about within hours after putting the book aside.

Not so with Wrapped In Rain. I find myself examining the characters after the fact, asking myself what I would do in their place, or trying to guess what might be in store for them from end of story on. I found myself wondering first if these character were followed up in a sequel and immediately after hoping they weren't, because they were so good I'd hate the potential deflation that might come as a result of a follow up (and no, I have no idea if the author did continue with these characters in another book).

While this book was no romance novel, I loved how relaxed the development of the love relationship was in the book. If other books wrote romantic threads as subtly and low key as this, I might be willing to read more books with romance threads.

The biggest factor in this book's favor was depth. It's not really something I can describe. Some books have a depth, an intensity that reaches deep inside you and gives you a soul satisfying experience for which no words exist. That was my experience with this book.

As mentioned, the book does start slow. There were a few scenes of really long telling dialogue. What bugged me more was that some of the dialogue, which was rememberance of past scenes of life, seemed too on-the-nose. It just didn't strike me that a person would recall much less use some of the words the character spoke while recalling an event in his life. But these things were all very minor compared to the overall quality of the book.

After I got past that slow first 40 or so pages, it was a magical turning point. I found myself very sad that at my age I couldn't stay up for hours and finish a book in one sitting. But I did finish it within a couple days.

And when I finished the book and put it down, I felt I was better off for the experience of having read it. Not too many books do that for me.

In the publishing world, writers are beaten over the head with the idea that you should read, read, read, everything you can get your hands on. I disagree. I think you should read very selectively. Pick the books that lift you up a few inches off the ground just by reading them.

I know I have picked a winner to read when I finish it and think "this author inspires me to keep pushing on. To keep striving to be the best I can be because this is the type of fiction that's possible when you work hard." Man, what a cool feeling to have your writing batteries recharged in this way.

Thanks, Mr. Martin. You made my day--several of them, in fact. 8-)

1 comment:

JennaVictoria said...

I can emphatically relate to being underwhelmed by the majority of books that I read. Your review of "Wrapped in Rain" has now compelled me to go out and get a copy by methods fair or foul. Thanks!