Official Review: The Tender Bonds by Ute Carbone

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NadineTimes10
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Official Review: The Tender Bonds by Ute Carbone

Post by NadineTimes10 »

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Tender Bonds" by Ute Carbone.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Patty Dykstra isn’t particularly thrilled about where her life is going—or where others assume her life will be going. She’s been settling for an unpretentious existence for so long, but that all changes suddenly for Patty in author Ute Carbone’s literary fiction novel, The Tender Bonds.

Patty’s absent father had been sending her cards for years, but she knows nothing about it until after her aunt dies. Patty was a little girl the last time she saw her father, decades ago. Now, finally opening card after card from the man who used to call her “Star Shine,” Patty decides to put the life she’s been settling for on pause. She goes back to small-town Bensonville, convinced that she can go on with nothing else until she finds out what happened to her father.

Patty’s life-changing journey isn’t a syrupy-sweet one, but the author paints it with sweet moments woven in and with brilliant imagery. At points, Carbone’s writing almost sings off of the page, in notes that range from discordant to melodious. Phrases like one that tells of a grieving man whose voice is “heavy machinery” and another that shows a mirror shattering into “a million stars” add dimension to the novel’s contemplative style. The lessons the heroine has to learn about family, faith, hope, and love don’t have easy answers. Still, family, faith, hope, and love manage to shine through in unexpected places, through an unlikely band of flawed characters.

There’s a certain instance of repetition in Chapter Two that doesn’t appear intentional. At work one morning, Patty states to the reader that she needs to go back to Bensonville and find out if her father is still alive, as if she’s making the decision right then. However, a few pages before, Patty already mentioned making the decision earlier that morning, in narration and in conversation, with nearly the same wording.

Also, there seems to be some present and past tense confusion in one train of dialogue. In several cases throughout the novel, Patty slides in and out of present tense, clearly on purpose, as she slides in and out of her imagination. However, during a conversation in Chapter Four, the way she switches back and forth between tenses is awkward. At one point, she even switches from past to present tense within the same sentence, so it’s difficult to tell if she’s doing it completely on purpose or not, in that case.

Still, both the unbeautiful and beautiful pieces of the story itself deftly culminate into something compelling. Its little technical hitches aside, I give The Tender Bonds a rating of 4 out of 4 stars for the excellent development and depth in this story of hope. I’d recommend it to literary and women’s fiction enthusiasts who appreciate serious novels with a romantic thread.

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The Tender Bonds
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Post by bookowlie »

Great review Nadine! I like how you balanced the technical errors with your love of the story when rating the book. The book sounds like a winner.
"The best way out is always through" - Robert Frost

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Post by NadineTimes10 »

Thanks, Owlie! Yes, sometimes the story itself shines enough that the little technical hitches grow dimmer.

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Post by bookowlie »

"At points, Carbone’s writing almost sings off of the page, in notes that range from discordant to melodious."

This line from your review is outstanding!
"The best way out is always through" - Robert Frost

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Post by NadineTimes10 »

bookowlie wrote:"At points, Carbone’s writing almost sings off of the page, in notes that range from discordant to melodious."

This line from your review is outstanding!
Aw, gee, thanks. I guess good writing encourages the same. :D

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Post by Tanaya »

I've encountered many books and movies lately about protagonists who return to their hometowns (or where they were born in this case). I really like the premise. You learn so much about yourself when you reenter your past. Great review!

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Post by NadineTimes10 »

Tanaya wrote:I've encountered many books and movies lately about protagonists who return to their hometowns (or where they were born in this case). I really like the premise. You learn so much about yourself when you reenter your past. Great review!
Thanks, Tanaya! I'm actually quite in the mood for reading more "return home" themed books--which is likely due to the fact that I've started my annual Christmas reading, and "Christmassy" and "homey" have a way of going together. :D

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Post by Quinto »

Such a touching story...a girl growing oblivious of her dad's love. Not surprising she has to go back and tie up the loose ends, for her life to get any resemblance of order. Sounds like a great read.

Thanks for the wonderful review.

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