March 2018: Hindsight
Cardyn Brooks reviews two books on the theme of hindsight
My Rock: Tabitha (Caregiver series book 1) by Pat Simmons
Kobo Writing Life April 2018
contemporary Christian romance
My Rock: Tabitha is a prime example of fiction as a safe headspace for addressing scary subjects. Three sisters, Kym, Tabitha, and Rachel, set up a rotation of six months each to care for their beloved Aunt Tweet, who is dealing with the progressively worsening symptoms of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The author’s research and personal experiences are evident in the masterful way she incorporates the core and tangential challenges the disease imposes on the patient and her caregivers. There’s a lighthearted tone that still respects the seriousness of the circumstances.
The narrative pace conveys a sense of escalating pressure on Tabitha as she juggles the demands of her personal and professional responsibilities. Marcus enters the story as Tabitha struggles to find balance. Their adversarial introduction leads to grudging respect, and eventually to love. The evolution of their relationship charms with its inclusion of all kinds of people in terms of ethnicity, age, social class, and education. Emotionally engaged men as a masculine ideal are the norm in this cast of characters. Variety in the personality traits of black and brown men and women offer an array that resonates as authentic to real-life demographics.
The first half of My Rock: Tabitha presents a relatable portrait of how hectic modern secular lives make it difficult to nurture spiritual lives. It’s the approach to religious belief in the second half that didn’t work for me. Characters believe they hear God’s voice directly instructing them. Fortunately, His words are all supportive, consoling, and admonishing, as are the Bible scriptures that are quoted throughout the story to support the fundamental “faith without works is dead” theme.
Cis-normative ideas about men as the rescuers of women as damsels in distress are sprinkled among elements that clearly support the full-fledged personhood of women. On page 229: When Marcus signed on to be her caregiver, he wanted to be her hero, sums up that continuous thread.
A firmly established pattern of showing women acting in support of other women still acknowledges their perceived inherent competitiveness on page 137: Women disliked the fact Rachel Knicely couldn’t be duplicated. This friction between entrenched archaic and progressive present-day expectations based on gender reads as reflective of the contradictions in attitudes in real life.
Engaging narration and dialogue combined with variations in tempo make My Rock: Tabitha an entertaining read. In the e-ARC made available to me through NetGalley.com, there were about a dozen or so minor proofing oversights of singular or plural agreement in subject and verb, missing –eds, and incorrect word choices like lost for loss on page 128, mediate for meditate on page 172, and occasion for occasional on page 182, which were probably corrected in the final version.
Research and discussions about Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders are becoming more commonplace. Marita Golden’s article in The Washington Post Magazine, the interview with CBS This Morning about The Pursuit of Memory, and characters with dementia on U.S. soap operas The Young and the Restless and General Hospital are a few recent public conversations about this growing medical trend.
I Am Justice (Band of Sisters #1) by Diana Muňoz Stewart
Sourcebooks Casablanca June 2018
adult contemporary paramilitary romance
LeFemme Nikita meets Alias, Death Wish, The Avengers, every Blaxploitation movie starring Pan Grier, and Annie (X-rated without the singing) with a few traits from Amazons and Samurai thrown into the mix in this rollicking tale of vengeance and redemption. Questions about how warriors reintegrate into civilian life are explored with sensitivity and surprising depth.
Justice is a member of a secret vigilante group called the League of Warrior Women. Honorably discharged from spec ops military service, Sandesh now runs the International Peace Team. Together they rescue girls and women from human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. Between shootouts, explosions, double-crosses, and ambushes, Justice and Sandesh challenge conventional gendered expectations for women and men.
On page 24 Sandesh asks Justice, “Why is it so bizarre to believe most men, just like most women are capable of a whole range of actions?”
In I Am Justice everyone in this diverse cast of characters is a mess. Or to quote Shonda Rhimes, “No one gets to be the saint.” Having every character guilty of something ethically questionable adds emotional texture and tension, which distinguish this first title in the Band of Sisters series from the usual overload of mayhem and violence without the engagement of mind and spirit offered by most mass market vigilante fiction.
[There’s lots of f-word usage as every part of speech.]
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