Official Review: Two Sheldon Iowa Summers

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CatInTheHat
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Official Review: Two Sheldon Iowa Summers

Post by CatInTheHat » 26 May 2018, 18:15

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Two Sheldon Iowa Summers" by Donald De Vries.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Donald De Vries shares life in small-town Iowa in Two Sheldon Iowa Summers: The Last Real Summer – Summer One, The Summer of Final Judgment – Summer Two. De Vries story is a fictionalized account of life in a small town. The author calls his tale “A Novella-yzed-AutoBio and Story.”

The author opens with facts about a variety of the people in his real town. He also dedicates the book to people who have been impacted by mental illness, alcohol, drugs and more. Summer One is a short section, which introduces the characters, gives some background information, and familiarizes readers with the town.

Les takes us on a journey of fantastical visions that feel so real and incredibly disturbing. These visions and dreams share quite a bit about various people in his life, including those past and present, which become quite meaningful in realistic ways later in the story. As Les arrives home for the summer after his freshman year, we meet his girlfriend, Lorraine, his friends (Wildchild, Vern, Huckleberry, Merton), and his family (Denny, Connie, his parents – Gladys and Waldo). The author shares a bit about some of the relationships and setting the tone for the main story.

The core of the story is presented in Summer Two. It is now the summer of Les and his friends’ junior year in college. This particular summer will test the power of love and friendship as one of the gang’s addiction issues becomes worse, causing heartbreak for many. Relationships aren’t always what they seem to be, or what they should be. The gang will learn to accept the wisdom of their elders and watch their community come together in the midst of several great tragedies. The growth and redemption following such tragedy are in some ways predictable but told in a thought-provoking way.

De Vries touches on a few tough topics in Two Sheldon Iowa Summers. Mental illness, drugs, alcohol, and death all play a role in this story. De Vries depictions of mental illness are very realistic. The characters that have a mental illness are shown as having the normal fluctuations and behaviors of someone with a mental illness. Furthermore, the ways their family members react are highly accurate and believable. Drug and alcohol addictions are also characterized with phenomenal accuracy. One of my favorite parts in the book is the information the author shares on the various ways addicts and their loved ones can seek help.

The core characters and several of the minor characters are well-developed. Watching how Les and Lorraine mature over time while creating their future amidst tragedy is endearing and genuine. The vivid descriptions make you feel like you are visiting Sheldon and that you could find your way from the family farm to the pharmacy in town. Overall, the realism is what sets this story apart from others with similar storylines.

The one major negative is the numerous grammatical errors, as well as a few spelling errors. There were also small gaps between some paragraphs and large gaps inside of sentences. This was distracting at times. This book definitely needs more editing and polishing to become a first-rate book.

I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Normally, the grammar and formatting issues would have brought the rating down to 2 stars for me. However, the storyline is so worthwhile, engaging, and endearing on so many different levels that I had to give it 3 stars. People who have dealt with family members who are addicts or mentally ill would find this story very relatable. It would also be appealing to those who like to see how people deal with tragedy. There are some quite graphic scenes, but they do not overpower the story.

******
Two Sheldon Iowa Summers
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Post by Mr Benji » 28 May 2018, 02:31

Nice review,
it seems you really enjoyed the book, paying close attention, Catin the hat.

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Post by teacherjh » 28 May 2018, 08:11

I think I would be interested in seeing how the characters face their addictions and mental health issues. I work with this in real life so it hits home for me.

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Post by CatInTheHat » 28 May 2018, 14:41

teacherjh wrote:
28 May 2018, 08:11
I think I would be interested in seeing how the characters face their addictions and mental health issues. I work with this in real life so it hits home for me.
It's very realistically portrayed in several different ways.
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Post by Kemunto lucy » 28 May 2018, 19:06

The book has a very nice lesson. Friendship is the best thing that can happen to someone especially if the friends are loyal. Unity too.Thanks for the awesome review.

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Post by gen_g » 28 May 2018, 19:40

Thanks for the detailed review! I love a book which portrays realistic relationships, and this seems to be so.

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Post by kandscreeley » 29 May 2018, 09:15

It's too bad about the number of errors, but I love that the author touches on such deep topics. Mental illness is hard to portray, so I'm glad the author does that realistically. Sounds like it's still worth looking into. Thanks!
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Post by NL Hartje » 29 May 2018, 11:46

Man, a lot of books following addictive behaviors these past weeks. I wonder if it's just a fluke or there is an influx of this focus for a reason?

Thanks for this review!
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Post by CatInTheHat » 29 May 2018, 15:17

NL Hartje wrote:
29 May 2018, 11:46
Man, a lot of books following addictive behaviors these past weeks. I wonder if it's just a fluke or there is an influx of this focus for a reason?

Thanks for this review!
There has been a bit of a trend lately, not sure if there is a reason for it though. Fluke?
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Post by Miriam Molina » 01 Jun 2018, 01:45

The first summer, Les has fantastical visions. Are these related to the events that would eventually happen in the second summer?

This must be a really good story for you to rate it that way, considering the many editorial flaws. I am itching to find out how Les and Lorraine (and the rest of the cast) end up.

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Post by bookowlie » 01 Jun 2018, 08:30

Thanks for another insightful review. I like books set in a small town and this one seems unique. It doesn't seem like the usual cast of warm, fuzzy characters. It's a shame about the errors because a good editor could have made this book shine.
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Post by CatInTheHat » 01 Jun 2018, 16:56

Miriam Molina wrote:
01 Jun 2018, 01:45
The first summer, Les has fantastical visions. Are these related to the events that would eventually happen in the second summer?

This must be a really good story for you to rate it that way, considering the many editorial flaws. I am itching to find out how Les and Lorraine (and the rest of the cast) end up.
The visions are more related to one of the underlying themes in the story. To explain would spoil it! I will say that the book is a little difficult at first, which I neglected to mention in my review, but worth it!
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Post by Bianka Walter » 03 Jun 2018, 05:43

CatInTheHat wrote:
26 May 2018, 18:15

The vivid descriptions make you feel like you are visiting Sheldon and that you could find your way from the family farm to the pharmacy in town. Overall, the realism is what sets this story apart from others with similar storylines.
I absolutely love it when a book places you in the story. Building beautiful, precise worlds is such a rare talent, and it seems this author has nailed it.
Thanks so much for your review, I really enjoyed it :)
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Post by Helen_Combe » 14 Jun 2018, 05:14

Great review. It sounds like a fascinating peep not only into a small town but also into people’s lives and minds.
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