Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whatever You Make of It by Michelle Sodaro

This is an exciting, yet hard to write review.  This is a book that was self published by a good friend of mine. I worked with Michelle at B. Dalton bookstore, and she also was a teacher at one of the high schools in the same district where I teach.  So it's very exciting to write about a friend's book, yet also hard, because I want to say all positive things, but as an honest reviewer, I owe it to my readers to also list any problems I had with the book.  So hopefully I won't hurt her feelings with anything I say.

The plot of the book is a very neat idea.  The main character is Johnathon.  Johnathon is a lawyer on his way up the career ladder.  His goal is to be the youngest partner in his law firm.  Along the way he has a girlfriend named Rebecca.  As you can imagine a man in this situation, he often doesn't have time for people.  He doesn't really talk to his family, he feels his mom is kind of weird.  Especially when she calls and tells him that his grandmother has asked her if he found the book she left for him yet.  That's weird because his grandmother is dead.  So when his plans with Rebecca for the evening are cancelled when her uncle goes to the hospital, he finally takes out the  book and begins reading.  The characters in the book, Jac and Jyn, seem to have a somewhat similar relationship to Johnathon and Rebecca.  Only they are just friends.  And another weird thing happens, when Johnathon reads something and remarks out loud about it, the characters in the book, some of them, can hear him.  And so he begins to affect the story.  The characters begin talking back and interacting in a way with Johnathon.  If he tries to skip ahead to see what happens next, the pages are blank.  It is as if the words only appear on the pages as he reads them.  And so by reading through the story, and helping Jac to realize how he really feels about Jyn when she is hurt and falls into a coma, Johnathon also begins to figure out how he really feels about Rebecca, and realizes that he may lose her if he doesn't do something now.  It was at this point that I thought the book seemed to be about finished, but still had quite a bit of pages left.  Well, now we hear Rebecca's side of the story.  As Johnathon tries to save their relationship, she now must decide if she should give him another chance.  And to help her, he gives her the book to read.  Rebecca picks up the book, and is brought into Jac and Jyn's world, but it is now a new story.  It's as if the book knows what kind of story is needed for each reader.  So once again, using the characters in the story, helping them with their issues, helps Rebecca to work through her issues.  This part of the book was hard for me, as it starts out with Rebecca going to put her dog to sleep.  Not something easy for me, or probably any animal lover, to read about!  But I kind of skimmed through that part so as not to get to crying to much, and read on for the story.  The characters Jac and Jyn are a bit different in this new story, and it is as if what happened in the story that Johnathon never happened.

As I said, it is a really interesting idea for a story.  I'm sure part of the reason it took me a while to get through was because I've been reading so many YA or more paranormal even type of stories, that this isn't my "usual type" of book these days.  As I've said before with other self published books, I also had trouble with how the dialogue was written.  When people speak, they don't use "proper" English.  They use contractions like "we'll" or "I'm" instead of "we will" or "I am".  I always have trouble reading any story where the speaking parts don't just flow as if I'm actually listening to someone speak.  Also, a few spots needed probably one more editor to catch some errors that I'm sure happened as exciting parts were being written and the actual writing was probably going quite fast.  The names bugged me a bit too.  Seeing the name Johnathon instead of just Jonathan.  It tripped my mental "tongue" as I was reading aloud in my head.  And Jac.  Is it pronounced just like "Jack"?  For some reason in my head I wanted to give it a French sound, like "Jacque".

Those are my cons.  At first I also didn't like the cover.  I thought, wow, is that all you have to pick from for self published books?  Then as you read the story, you realize the cover is like that because that is what the cover of the book they are reading in the story looks like, so I liked it.  Again, I think the book was a neat story.  And it inspires me to get the novel I started several years ago finished soon, and maybe try to self publish it one day.

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