Friday, February 24, 2012

I'll Walk Alone

Book Review

I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

I had never heard of Mary Higgins Clark and I had no idea what her books might be like. But this one was sitting there, on the large print library shelf, staring back at me.

And I didn't have many other options right then in large print that were more interesting.

Basically, I took a chance. I judged it by the cover. I decided that it looked more likely to be okay than something more fluffy and sappy looking.

I risked it all and brought it home.

I'll Walk Alone

From the beginning, I could see that the writing style seemed okay, but a bit brisk, brief, and blunt. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

But then I discovered that the jumps between the action and paragraphs were choppy too. The characters are pretty flat and not well developed. Our protagonist is given some quirks to make her more vulnerable, but that doesn't quite do the trick of making her realistic. None of the other characters are sketched with anything more than the most fleeting of physical or personality characteristics.

This was getting to be almost too much abruptness for me.

I did like the extended set of characters that do, ultimately, all link together, even if they are done so in a most tenuous and not quite believable way. Two major lottery winners? A lottery support group? Really? I guess it is original, since I don't think I've ever come across that before in my reading.

Our protagonist is presented to us as someone who is capable in spite of setbacks. Unfortunately, all of her difficulties just don't ring true enough to generate any sympathy for her. Without sympathy, I just didn't feel like much it was believable. Without being believable, I wasn't really interested in what happened. The setbacks were just too many, just a bit too extreme, and her responses to those setbacks just too shallow. It just didn't seem to work.

And finally, the title. I have a hangup about titles. I want to see some connection with the text. I want there to be an identifiable reason for the title being what it is. A bit of dialogue. A literary reference. A telling object of the story. A cultural reference. Something tied to the story.

I never found any such connection with this book. Sure, I can sit, and think, and make one up. But I don't want to have to do the work of the author. I want that connection made for me. Otherwise, this book could have been called "Lottery Winner Sleuth" or "Challenging Life" or "Design Difficulties" or "Childless Challenges" or "When Life Gives you Lemons" or "Don't Trust a Babysitter" or any number of others. And none of them resonate. None of them cut it. And neither does the actual title.

Maybe that's the problem. Neither the author or publisher could find a title that resonates.

Unfortunately, this whole book just didn't resonate for me.

Fortunately, I took a risk on this book, and all that happened is I spent a few hours reading it instead of something better.

There are worse things that can happen.

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