Official Review: Shepherding Cassie by Michael Oborn

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inaramid
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Official Review: Shepherding Cassie by Michael Oborn

Post by inaramid » 05 Jun 2018, 08:57

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Shepherding Cassie" by Michael Oborn.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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Shepherding Cassie, a feature-length film script by Michael Oborn, explores the hurtful—and possibly fatal—impact of religious fanaticism, sexual prejudice, buried secrets, and tenuous family ties on the lives of a 60-year-old ex-convict and his granddaughter, Cassie.

The story unfolds on the day Obediah “Obie” Shepherd is paroled from prison. Loathed by his son, Laurence, shunned by most of the community, and bullied by a vindictive sheriff, Obie stubbornly returns to the small town of Deuteronomy to start his life over. His arrival is fortuitous, as Laurence—who is also the town’s pastor—plans to commit nine-year-old Cassie to a clinic that allegedly “fixes sexually-conflicted people.” Laurence suspects his little girl—who has short hair, wears jeans, doesn’t play with dolls, and excels at gymnastics—is a lesbian, and the clinic offers a window of opportunity to save his precious child’s soul. Outraged, Obie stakes his freedom and his life to save Cassie from this fate. Amidst the other characters’ indifference, helplessness, and zealotry, Obie, a handyman by trade, is grounded by the simple wisdom of the words, “You don’t need to fix what’s not broken.”

For the most part, Oborn succeeds in expanding a provocative premise into a would-be movie that combines family drama, action, and a smidgen of suspense. The story is multilayered, with several running plotlines that will get readers asking, “What crime sent Obie to prison? What caused the rift between Laurence and his father? What ties does a religious organization have with a venom expert?” Oborn teases readers with these tidbits of mysteries and makes effective use of flashbacks and foreshadowing to weave the answers in the fabric of the story. He captures the rigid and stifling vibe of small-town living, and he populates his town with a cast of characters that may not be as memorable as gruff Obie, rigid Laurence, or sweet Cassie, but were at least instrumental in moving the plot forward.

The promise of a story focused on gender stereotypes and the misuse of psychology was what drew me to the script. These issues, however, were neither fully explored nor given as much consideration as I’d expected. Was Cassie a homosexual, as her father feared? Did she think of herself in that way? I wish there had been more focus on Cassie’s sexual identity crisis. Also, how has a clinic gotten away with using a stigmatized type of treatment to “cure” something that has long been declassified as a mental illness? Why are authorities in the town, even a judge who should know better, incapable of helping Cassie? Had the story been set in the 1950s instead of modern-day Utah, these key details holding the plot together would make more sense.

These issues aside, there were also numerous spelling and word usage errors in the text. Words ending in -cle were erroneously written with -cal (e.g., vehical/vehicle, receptical/receptacle, and manical/manacle), and letters were often omitted from several words (e.g., cemetry/cemetery, immediatly/immediately). Not counting punctuation issues, there were at least two spelling or typographical errors per page, which is more than sufficient to impact the rating of this work.

For the various errors mentioned, some key details that I find questionable, and a promising premise that wasn’t fully realized, I rate Shepherding Cassie 2 out of 4 stars. If partial points can be awarded, 2.5 stars will be a fair score for this screenplay. However, the number of editing issues (most of which can be corrected by running a simple spellcheck in MS Word) forces me to round down the rating. Readers of family dramas might find this worth a perusal, as there are secrets to be uncovered in the Shepherd family’s past. However, those looking for an in-depth portrayal of sexuality issues might find the “evil psychiatrist” trope comical, the characters unrelatable, and the plot superficial.

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Shepherding Cassie
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Post by SamSim » 07 Jun 2018, 07:10

Huh. Before you elaborated on the time period, I totally thought this story was set in the '60s or earlier. It does feel weird that it would be present day. It's a shame about the poor editing. Thanks for the thorough review!
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Post by kandscreeley » 07 Jun 2018, 07:31

This doesn't sound like a plot that would be particularly interesting to me. That along with the numerous editing errors makes me have to pass on this book. I appreciate your thoughts, though. Thanks.
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Post by teacherjh » 07 Jun 2018, 13:38

The treatment center is probably legal because it is spiritually based and probably non-profit. I have no problem with this type of counseling if the person chooses it. (of course, the counseling in the book was probably extreme and abusive which is often not the case in real life.) No one should be forced to pursue this course against their will.

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Post by inaramid » 07 Jun 2018, 20:01

SamSim wrote: ↑
07 Jun 2018, 07:10
Huh. Before you elaborated on the time period, I totally thought this story was set in the '60s or earlier. It does feel weird that it would be present day. It's a shame about the poor editing. Thanks for the thorough review!
Strange, isn't it? Thanks for dropping by!

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
07 Jun 2018, 07:31
This doesn't sound like a plot that would be particularly interesting to me. That along with the numerous editing errors makes me have to pass on this book. I appreciate your thoughts, though. Thanks.
Thank you for commenting!

teacherjh wrote: ↑
07 Jun 2018, 13:38
The treatment center is probably legal because it is spiritually based and probably non-profit. I have no problem with this type of counseling if the person chooses it. (of course, the counseling in the book was probably extreme and abusive which is often not the case in real life.) No one should be forced to pursue this course against their will.
I didn't place it in the review because I thought it was too much information. Having looked at the book description, I realized it was already mentioned anyway.

The treatment involved electric shock treatments or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It was a method that has indeed been used in the 1930s to the 1950s to "treat" homosexuality (declassified as a mental illness in the 1980s). ECT, however, is still used in the modern age for depression.

You are right, though. No one should be forced into any type of treatment without their consent.

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 07 Jun 2018, 21:18

To bad the author has not digged in much, and the read does not seem to be a simple at all. It's more of a dark read that I am sure most people would find this subject to be taboo. I am sorry, I get your point of exploration on the psychology side but since the author has not walked through that door I do not wish to read this further. Thank your for your full detailed review!
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Post by inaramid » 07 Jun 2018, 23:15

Sahani Nimandra wrote: ↑
07 Jun 2018, 21:18
To bad the author has not digged in much, and the read does not seem to be a simple at all. It's more of a dark read that I am sure most people would find this subject to be taboo. I am sorry, I get your point of exploration on the psychology side but since the author has not walked through that door I do not wish to read this further. Thank your for your full detailed review!
You know what, I haven't really thought about it as "dark." But now that you've mentioned it, it is, isn't it? Or "potentially" dark at least, since the author took the story to another direction. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by crediblereading2 » 08 Jun 2018, 00:10

So many interesting questions asked. This makes the plots very interesting although there are still unanswered questions. Thank you for your thorough review.

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Post by gen_g » 08 Jun 2018, 10:49

Thanks for the detailed review! The premise is interesting, but it seems like the author failed to deliver a well-developed plot.

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Post by Al Chakauya » 23 Jun 2018, 23:20

It's always sad that an author writes a potentially great book marred with a lot of grammatical and typing errors. Forced therapy in this day and age? - Argh, the author lost it! Thanks for the great review but I don't intend to read this book from what I got from your review.

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Post by Ana-Maria-Diana » 08 Jul 2018, 11:38

Nice review. I can say that the book touches some hard topics and it appears to explore them well, but It is not a book I will read. Thank you for the review.

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