Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Up at the College by Michele Andrea Bowen

Thanks to Jessie at armchairinterviews for giving me this book to review!

Yvonne Copeland’s marriage of fifteen years has disintegrated. Her husband gives her a mere few weeks to move her and their two daughters out so that he can move on with his life. For a stay-at-home wife and mother, this is a nightmare.

Curtis Parker is having some issues of his own. His job as coach of the basketball team could be on the line. The higher ups are up to something and he has to figure out what it is and how to get around it before he loses his job.

Both Curtis and Yvonne are struggling in their faith. Will they be able to allow God to help them put their lives together?

For the entire first half of this book, I found myself coming up with excuses to put it down. Then I found more excuses to not pick it up. The prologue sucked me right in and kept me interested, but by the middle of chapter one, I was bored. The characters don’t breathe. They’re simply written. You get intimate glimpses of who they are now and then, but they just don’t sink into your heart. Not being a huge basketball fan, I found myself really wanting to skim over those parts. Forcing myself not to, became a chore. The only thing that I loved about the first half of the book is the dialect. When the characters speak, that’s when Bowen shines. There’s an amazing realness to not only what the characters say, but the way that they say it. You can actually hear their voices in your head. Since I didn’t have a good base for who the characters were, this really surprised me, but I was absolutely delighted with it.

The second half of the book I found much different than the first. It starts out in the church where a Bernie Mac look-a-like preacher is confronted by all the church ladies that have been after him, wanting him to choose one of them. This was the most real scene in the entire book and took me from laughter to tears in moments. I could tell that Bowen had a fun time writing this part and I wish this same feeling went throughout the entire book. I did find that the second half of the book picks up and it’s much more difficult to put down. By that point, I’d seen that Bowen really does have a great talent and the characters, while still not real, at least held some interest to me.

Overall, this was a decent read, but not something I’d suggest to anyone unless I knew that it would personally touch them. On a more personal note, this book did touch me.  Having recently gone through a similar situation to that of Yvonne, this book gave me the bit of hope and faith I'd been looking for.  Although I wouldn't suggest it as a normal 'just for fun' read, I strongly suggest it to anyone going through a rough divorce or just needing a faith pick-me-up. 

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