I'd pick it for this book.
I'm an educated, well-read 44 y/o male who enjoys a good British farce, satire, and smart wordplay. And, even though I'm a big Harry Potter fan, and also like a good satire -- no cow is too sacred to butcher.
But please -- this is none of those things.
It's a huge disappointment in all regards. It is neither clever nor well written, and after 15 minutes I found myself just wishing it'd just be over. I found myself trapped, though, in a situation where this was the ONLY thing that I had to listen to. Even then, it was painful.
One of my children (age 13) happened to overhear just a few minutes when he picked up my iPod and commented, "Even with all the weird stuff you listen to, dad, that's just bizarre." Out of the mouths of babes . . . .
From a person who is so addicted to reading that he's been known, in a pinch, to read the owner's manual to a lawn mower, a homeowner's insurance policy, and the back of a cereal box, I have to say that this is without a doubt one of the worst things I've ever run across. Don't waste your time or money on this one.
If trapped on a long drive and this were one of the five last audio books available from the truck stop selections, I would chose it over several other options, especially if they involved NASCAR, Golf or analysis of intergalactic thermodynamics as the same impacted the French Revolution.
Narration was good, clear and at a reasonable pace.
3 out of 5. I found it hard to get involved with the characters initially, and the use of nicknames or oblique references (i.e. "Quality of Life" -- I probably didn't have a good handle on what this meant until the last 20% of the book) is at times annoying. It was OK, but I won't keep it on my iPhone to repeat. It wasn't bad, and was even OK -- but it wasn't spectacular.
The ending was abrupt and unfulfilling. I went back to Audible to find out if there was a Part 3 to the book that I'd overlooked. It did not feel resolved and, having finally developed some attachment to the characters, I felt a bit cheated when it just stopped. I suspect this is a characteristic of the author, and will probably weigh that heavily when determining whether to listen to another book by this author or not.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would suffer through this book. I downloaded the free exerpt, made it through ten minutes and wanted to gouge out my eardrums just to stop it. The narrator's voice, especially as the child, felt like needles boring into my skull. Add to that a story line with which I was completely unengaged, and you'll understand why I suffered through about thirty minutes and then decided that listening to the racket the gym plays over the PA was a better choice (something that I've never done before.)
I'm so glad that we could download a chapter and listen to it without charge, and I really do appreciate that from Audible. If' I'd spent money on this, I'd have really been pissed. It gets one star because zero stars isn't an option.
There were things about this book that were great, and there were parts that I wanted to skip over. I was captivated by the story of the older woman and found it fascinating. It had enough twists and turns to be interesting and keep me engaged while at the same time it wasn't so unrealistic that I was put off by it.
By the same token, I found that I had little interest in the drama of the younger woman. Mostly, I thought, "You need to suck it up and get a life, sister." I found that, at least until the very end, I didn't like her much. She was fussy and a general pain in the tush. Yeah, there was trauma in her background and she had a cruddy childhood. Get some therapy and get over it.
It almost felt as if two different authors had written this book. One was talented and had clear story lines that were gradually revealled to us; the other had the feel of a dime novel and really made me wonder why I was wasting my time. Part of that may be my inability to engage with the younger woman, though, but I did find my mind wandering during some of her longer soliloquies and, unlike a lot of other authors, I did not feel compelled to rewind and listen to them again. To some extent, it reminded me of having a whiney sister-in-law that you just tune out after a while.
Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a terrible book, and there was far more to enjoy than put me off. I would read something by this author again, but probably not until I'd read a lot of other things. On the other hand, if you really like the involved novels of, say, Thomas Hardy, this is likely to be exactly the right thing for you.
This book is well done. I like the author's transition between the elder and the younger, and the narration is excellent in making it easy to discern between the characters.
My only complaint is that I'd have liked to continue the stories of both the younger and the older protagonist. When the story ends for the younger, I wanted very much to have some type of resolution to hear the rest of his story. That was somewhat resolved through the story, but the ending with the elder character left me wanting a bit more -- I did feel that ultimate end was somewhat unrealistic as well, although I won't go into the details of that so as to avoid spoiling the story for anyone. I have to admit, I didn't see it coming until the very end. On the other hand, the fact that I wanted more is probably an indication that the characters were well developed since I didn't want to let them go.
The prose is good and the story is well written. The characters are engaging and you find that you really like the ones you should and that you at least empathize with the bad guys, although sometimes I admit thinking that they got what they deserved.
This book is has themes and a story line mature enough for adults to enjoy, and yet there's not much in there that would shock your grandmother. While there is the occasional coarse word that may be unacceptable if you're listening in the car with pre-teens, it's not so much that I would have reservations about listening to it with my kids OR my grandmother in the car. I recommend it.
As a 44 y/o gay man, I found this a pleasant, if somewhat juvenile fantasy. I guess if I were still a 15 y/o high school student, this might be instrumental to my escapism. In the 70's, when I was there, of course there was no such thing. If you're still trapped in Rural American and desperate for anything that's out there, this certainly fits the bill.
I bought it for the same reason that I buy my kids overpriced candy bars to send the Band to wherever -- it supports a good cause (in this case, gay fiction), and I want to see more of it especially on Audible.
It's a pleasant book to listen to, a "vacation read" that you can occasionally doze off during without missing much of the plot (at least, not so much that you're lost 20 minutes later). It's somewhat forgettable, though, in that I never invested in any of the characters or felt especially bonded to them.
In short, I probably won't ever listen to it again, but it was OK.
If you are a fan of David Sedaris' works, you will do like I did and listen to this in one sitting (or in extended sessions on the treadmill at the gym). His wit and humor speaks to anyone with a family who doesn't match the stereotype of June & Ward Cleaver, especially if you are from the south. Listening to the audio version by Sedaris himself makes this all the more worthwhile. My only regret is that it's not longer, and Audible doesn't carry more of his works. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.
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