3 out of 4 stars
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After eight years of marriage, Dan knew almost nothing about Karen’s past. When Karen received a phone call notifying her about her father’s fragile health, she returned to her childhood home to be with her ailing father. Later, Dan arrived unannounced to offer Karen moral support. Things started to unravel as other people began to fill in the details about Karen’s past. Why had Karen never told Dan about James? Why didn’t he know that James was her brother, her twin, her dead twin? Dan learned many new things about Karen. Even more peculiar is what Karen discovered about James after all these years.
Some events are so traumatic that they leave us emotionally paralyzed. We watch others around us grow and change, but that specific memory seems to have rooted us firmly in the past. That vivid memory blocks emotional progress. Karen experienced this in Finding James by Nancy Blaha. This novel is classified under the genre of other fiction. It explored how the family and the community were affected by the death of a young person. The author invited readers to consider how different people handled this type of tragedy. I thought the author presented these different perspectives in a thoughtful way. Even so, some sensitive readers might feel overwhelmed by this theme.
I especially enjoyed the character development in this novel. Karen grew and matured throughout the story as she vacillated between confronting her past or running away from it. Secondary characters developed as readers observed how their present lives contrasted with immature actions and attitudes from the past.
The author used the characters’ memories of James to move the story forward. What would happen if Karen found James' hidden diary? Would her mother be able to handle the revelation of James' innermost thoughts?
The pacing of the story was extraordinary and kept me turning the pages. The author had me engrossed from the first pages of the book. I wanted to find out more details about Karen’s past and what had happened to James. Dan and Karen’s marital difficulties kept me wondering if their marriage would survive. Would Joey, Karen’s high school flame, succeed in wooing her away from Dan?
The only thing that affected my enjoyment of this book was the grammar and punctuation errors. These consisted primarily of missing periods, commas, and quotation marks. If you were reading the book for entertainment, you might not even notice them. The lack of profanity and sexual content significantly increased my level of satisfaction with this book.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The story line, character development, themes, and dialogues all came together to keep me glued to the pages of this book. This book would appeal to readers who enjoy stories about relationships. The author highlights the themes of family, dysfunctional relationships, death of a child, secrets in a marriage, divorce, and even a bit of fantasy. Without the errors, I would not hesitate to raise the rating of this book to the full four stars.
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