Picking Up the Pieces

Picking Up the Pieces - Brenda Adcock The book blurb pretty much describes the entire plot of the book. So, it was rather predictable until about 60%, when it started to get interesting. What is with these 'spoilery' blurbs? I am not criticizing the book, because it is very well written and I liked it immensely. But it would have been so much more of a page turner if I didn't know beforehand from the blurb what exactly would happen. I get that it is the author's intention to write a realistic book dealing w/PTSD and its effects on the victim's loved ones, but the potential for suspense was so much more. For example, in several instances, Athon's life was literally hanging by a thread, and Lauren is shown agonizing over it, but because we know (from the blurb) that she's gonna make it, we don't feel the urgency, even though suspense is clearly the author's intent. I can't help but compare this book to AJ Quinn's Show of Force. The plot is very similar, but the blurb of that book kept me totally in the dark...and only hinted at 'dangers' they might encounter. It's not necessarily a better book, but it succeeded both as a thriller and a drama. I love to be surprised and even shocked, and a little more discretion in blurb writing can make a book so much more enjoyable on more levels.

Now, on to the review: This is not a light read, as the lead character Athon can't seem to catch a break. Just when she has a chance at happiness, it is cruelly snatched from her--again and again. A few times, I wanted to stop reading because it was just so depressing. The first half of the book felt rather dry. The writing seemed detached ... like recounting events that happened in the their lives but not really delving deeper into the characters' minds or exploring their feelings. The instant reconnection after the 20 year split also felt a bit like a fanfic device--supposedly no one else ever came between them but how hard is it to find your lost love in this internet age? (sorry that was just nitpicking :))

The latter half of the book where the focus is more on Lauren and how she deals with Athon's PTSD is way better--more heartfelt, more heart-wrenching. Ironic, as nothing as horrific as the first half happens here, but this is the part where a box of tissues would come in handy. Even though the lead characters are portrayed here as flawed--weak or irritable or angry or just plain nuts, the second half of the book humanizes our heroines' struggle, and their journey to find each other again is what elevates this book to a great read.

So, to paraphrase a popular author, this isn't just a romance novel--it's a love story.

4 stars for the first half. 5 stars for the second half.