Third time is most definitely not a charm…

Maybe I am becoming an old reader. 

Three books this summer, and as far as I’m concerned- three let downs. 
While there were aspects of the first book that I enjoyed, it has been completely down hill ever since. 
This month’s book was Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah. 
When I chose this book, which was (I’d like to point out) a highly recommended book club selection- I was sure that the bad book streak had taken a turn for the better. Then when a few friends raved about how much they loved Kristin Hannah, I was even more certain. 

Que disappointment… 
Bottom line, I don’t love the story. I felt like I was watching a very poorly scripted melodrama be even more poorly acted out. I didn’t feel like the dialogue or actions were genuine with the characters, except for maybe a handful of times. And although I am not at all a prude, I felt like the beginning worked too hard to paint them as respectable people and then- as the story line progressed, forced crass vulgarities into their characters in crude ways which did not fit. 
By the time I had reached the half way point, I felt like I had read the same situation, with forty different details, over and over again. Conversations were always the same. Nothing fit. It was like a thrift store puzzle box containing pieces to twelve different images. And worst of all, there were multiple times when I felt like the author was writing this story as though the reader was just an idiot who could not think for themselves…

There were, (i felt) weird inconsistancies. For instance, because it’s a third person point of view, it was weird to me that the author chose to refer to her father as daddy. Daddy came out to great her. Daddy this, daddy that. It felt very first person. Lots and lots of little things like that annoyed me. So many melodramatic thoughts followed by interactions that, again- I felt, did not line up.

Being half of a reconciled marriage, and knowing the book would head in that direction, I really wanted to identify with it. I wanted to relate but I couldn’t. And while all of these details and instances painted Jack as the selfish husband, Birdie wasn’t any less of a selfish wife. Sure, she’d lost her identity but as her best friend pointed out VERY early on- that had everything to do with her and it wasn’t anyone else’s fault. Yet, she continued to try and convict Jack for that. Her life, her Jack centric life, had been designed by her. She did that. Birdie also chose to see Jack, ignore his feelings, punish him by being complacent. Honestly can not list every way in which this book annoyed me.

Before I get any criticism for not being sympathetic to the wife and mother plight, let me point out that I am a wife and mother. In fact, after only 5 short years of marriage, when we divorced, my world was so wrapped up in my husband that I truly felt stripped of anything real when he left me. I had nothing. No passion, no personality. No nothing. We do that to ourselves. Sure, we can get busy in child raising and meal fixing that we lose sight of things… BUT we choose to ignore, choose to be lazy rather than nurture ourselves… We choose. It doesn’t have to be that way…

So yeah… curious to hear your thoughts…

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10 thoughts on “Third time is most definitely not a charm…

  1. Okay . . . when you posted that this was the book for August, I put it on my holds list at the library. I honestly got it a couple of weeks ago but have not even started it (summer, busy, blah, blah, blah) . . . would you still recommend reading it, or should I just take it back to the library? Parts of your review made me think "I don't want to waste my time and brain power on this" but I'm still a little intrigued by the premise . . . thanks for being honest in your review. If you're looking for another read I just finished The Help and REALLY enjoyed it :)

  2. Katy, I'd say don't bother. It was a quick read, though, so it's not a huge waste of time, if you're a fast reader and curious about what you're "missing."Misty, I agree with everything you posted! It seems like last summer, I got to read two of the books you picked and LOVED them. Then this summer… total letdown.Characterization was all over the place, and I'm sorry, but the descriptions of clothing had me looking at the copyright date to see if it was from 1993. Honestly, the clothes did a lot to separate me from the characters, as silly as that sounds. I just found them to be real dorks based on clothing choices in 2002 (which is when the book as actually published).But on more serious notes, the marriage. You are SO right, Misty!I felt like Birdie was just a selfish brat. Being a northern-born and raised girl who has moved to the south, this book brought out all kinds of disgust for the southern ways of acting like you're just peachy when everyone knows you're not. It really made me mad every time Jack tried to talk to Birdie and she withdrew into her shell.I've known women whose husbands haven't told them they loved them for YEARS, let alone try to get them to talk about what's wrong. Yet this woman thinks that she has a good enough reason to get separated.Dr. Phil rarely suggests people get married because he always tells them "you have to earn your way out." When people actually do the things they ought to do to try to make their marriage work…. surprise! It often works! I just felt like Birdie wanted an easy out, and I didn't see enough character development to think that she'll keep working hard next time things get tough.

  3. Haven't read this one, but did just finish The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Have you read that? Not disappointing at all – adorable and very witty. Check it out!

  4. To be honest, I didn't even try to get this book because I wanted to read a couple of others before summer was over. Although I'm not sure why I gave myself the deadline of summer…I have more time to read when school starts :)Thanks for saving me another time waster:) It's so hard to find good books these days.Katy, I read The Help last fall and loved it, too. We just got in from seeing the movie, and I loved it as much as the book. I might check out The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I am also wanting to read One Day. Has anyone read it?

  5. I was looking forward to this book, but it didn't really do it for me either. It was too much!I like a simple-ish story line with charming people. This was not it. The plot was so depressing and I just want to say, quit complaining and paint already. You were so right in saying "poorly scripted melodrama." The book was like a really, really bad made-for-tv movie.Everyone loses themselves in a marriage, but I felt like the book was too forced. Birdie tried to find everything wrong with her life. (I am all about a little complaining, but eventually you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again.)Kristin Hannah always pops up in my recommendations on and I thought she was a highly rated author, but this book….not so much.

  6. So much to reply to… LOVED The Help! Katy, i did email you but I would not recommend it. Sarah, yes! the clothing was BAD… i too, thought the same thing… Lyssa, you must have known how badly i needed a good book recommendation… I will make that one next! Jenni- you were absolutely right to stay away… Jen- SAME HERE… ick, ick, ick… Won't make the mistake again…

  7. I agree with everything that's been said. Although as a wife and mother I could definitely relate to the idea of feeling like I have to set aside my hopes and dreams for myself to care for my family's needs, I couldn't sympathize with Birdie at all — oh, boo-hoo, I'm being forced to move to New York City so my husband can become a TV star! And yeah, the clothing was ridiculous. And I'm sorry, what group of women would seriously call itself the "Women's Passion Support Group"??!!The book felt very similar to a Danielle Steele or Harlequin romance novel, not at all what I usually read. As others have said already, too melodramatic, and the author's attempts at symbolism (like when Birdie dove into the wave and cam out on the other side) were forced and cheesy. I rolled my eyes through the whole book.

  8. Maggie, ha ha… when i saw my email i was just waking up and i was going to say "Maggie, meet Momadelphia- Momadelphia Maggie" and then i realized- SAME PERSON… but yeah, exactly… I felt like it was some mass produced, fast food processed novel as well. Which seems to be what a majority of people want to read. A little sad. In re: to symbolism… exactly. Trying too hard to write the next deeply intense and relatable great novel but, in attempting to (which she failed, miserably) she simply explained and over explained every detail- implying that her readers were buffoons.

  9. I liked this book okay. I did think parts of it were difficult to read. I also think it wasn't one of Hannah's strongest books – her latter books seem much better to me. However, I liked the book and I generally liked Birdie most of the time. I will say that 2 weeks after finishing this I picked up Hannah's latest, Night Road, and it totally blew me away. Such great reading – Distant Shores definitely paled in comparison.

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