3 out of 4 stars
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Kindred Journeys by Marjorie Tapley was so much fun to read! Martha is pregnant and heading across the country to take her no-account boyfriend to task for not stepping up to become the husband and daddy he should be. Martha also deems it wise to get away from her own daddy – he’s not pleased with his girl being unmarried and pregnant. If her car had been reliable, the trip might have turned out differently. Then the babies decide they want to be out exploring the world with their mommy a little earlier than expected. Martha’s running out of money since she now needs diapers and better places to stay, so she leaves her babies with kind, helpful people while she gets a job. Unfortunately, Martha’s not the only one with troubles. The people keeping her babies have to make life changes too; thus begins a series of disasters that affect so many lives.
Many of the situations in this book border on the absurd, but then, so does life. As police officer Andy learns in a writing class he’s taking, some life events are too outrageous to make believable fiction. Kindred Journeys is not only a harrowing story of the troubles Martha and others deal with, it also contains a few philosophical discoveries about life. Andy’s thoughts on relationships and his musings about “One of life’s perverse little ways of keeping things out of balance” were thoughtful and amusing to read. I also liked Francesca’s realization that, “Trying new things was what had brought her out here. That’s what had gotten her a better job. She was still saving money and she was closer to her goal.”
There’s a lot of skipping around in the two timelines: Martha’s in the 1950s, and the rest in the present. The other skipping around was more troublesome. Readers hop from one person to another without knowing how they fit in. It does all come together at the end but it took some concentration to remember whose situation was which sometimes.
Several of the characters speak colloquial, uneducated English. This made it easier to believe some of the choices they made, and it also added greatly to the tone of the book. Each character had a backstory that gave a reason to care about them and encourage them. Even when their thinking or choices were far from sensible, it made sense in context.
Only a couple of vulgarities other than “damn” were uttered. One was by a lowlife during an attempted rape. As disgusting as it was to read, it fit with his character and the situation. That scene, and one romantic lovemaking scene were the only erotic scenes in the book. Neither went too far into detail. If not for the errors, I would give this another star, but as it is, I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. It’s a wild tale that deeply explores feelings of self-worth, attachment, human nature, and how we deal with the vagaries of life.
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