3 out of 4 stars
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Connor Grace is a lonely, middle-aged, and divorced teacher. While in his twenties, he lost his fiancée, Lorena, and his best friend, Ozzie, when they were both murdered. In 2018, being depressed and having too much to drink, he ran into the street after a cab and was hit. The year was 1987 when he regained consciousness—obviously confused in his seventeen-year-old body with a head injury, a punctured lung, and a fractured leg. While seeking answers about what happened, his life becomes more complicated and dangerous than he could have possibly imagined. Will he be able to change the past and improve his future?
Finding Lorena by Michael Bartos is a 308-page, fascinating book listed in the C/T/M/H genre. Suspenseful and occasionally humorous, the author’s prose was easy to understand and imaginative. I expected this to be a romance novel, and it certainly was, but I was pleasantly surprised at the mystery and intrigue that were a substantial part of the story. The multiple twists and turns in the book kept it exciting and unpredictable. It was mostly narrated from the third-person point of view; however, the occasional inclusion of some pages from Lorena’s diary was a nice touch, offering insight into what she was thinking.
The importance of family and friends represents an underlying theme in the story. In addition to losing Lorena and Oscar when they were murdered, Connor lost his mother due to breast cancer. He had trouble dealing with their passing and now has the chance to prevent their premature deaths.
Another theme deals with prejudice. Ozzie was black, and Connor was white. Connor’s parents objected to him playing with Ozzie until an accident caused the fathers to meet and get to know each other. Lorena was a Jew, and Connor was a Christian. Their different religious backgrounds presented a problem with their families initially. Overall, the author did a good job of showing that we are all basically the same. The sole thing I had a problem with (and questioned why it was there) was a thought that Lorena had about Connor when she first encountered him: “With his athletic good looks, friendly toothy smile, and low country drawl she could tell he wasn’t Jewish.” This was a very stereotypical comment. I think it would have been better to have been left out entirely and would not have lost a thing in the process.
I encountered too many grammatical and punctuation errors in the novel. Also, there were formatting issues where the paragraphs didn’t always start in the same place. It could use the help of a professional editor. In addition, although most of my questions were explained by the end, there were a few that remained unanswered.
Due to the prior issues, one star is subtracted from the rating; subsequently, Finding Lorena achieves three out of four stars. It is too suspenseful and imaginative for two stars. I heartily recommend it to readers who enjoy thrilling crime dramas/mysteries with some incorporated romance. Sensitive readers should be aware that violence, profanities, and sex are encountered in the book.
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