Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Great Expectations can really ruin a Good Book

I picked up Mulberry Park by Judy Duarte and since I've never read her books before, I started out not knowing to expect. Soon I was in to the story. She does a great job with emotional intensity and she writes well. The way she weaves God into the lives of her characters, their questions about Him and how they relate to Him, it was very real and touching.


Then came the changing, where the characters begin to believe that God might be real after all, that He might care about them.


My expectations that had been steadily rising poofed into nothing.


Why? Because I like Jesus in my Christianity. And He wasn't in that book.


It was amazing how I'd zipped through, then when these people convert and there's no mention of Jesus (the main guy of Christianity), suddenly I didn't want to finish. The book is published by Kensington, an ABA publisher. I didn't realize this until later. If I'd known it ahead of time, then I woudn't have expected what I did.


Have you ever been really into a book, and then something subjective happens, and you're out?

27 comments:

Kristen Painter said...

I'm not going to name names, but I was just reading a contest entry that had me out by the second sentence. Unfortunately, I had to keep reading.

Jessica said...

LOL Kristen. You just cracked me up!

Janna Qualman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janna Qualman said...

Let's try that again... I had a stoopid moment.

Kristen's funny! :)

I know it's happened to me, and it's so disappointing. But on the other hand, reading what I don't like makes me that much more aware of what I do, and my motivation to write starts up again. :)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

By the number of books I don't finish I'm sure this has happened to me. However, the ones I can remember the problem's been in the delivery, not subjectivity stopping me from going on. I'll have to watch for this.

Jessica said...

Hmm, I hadn't thought of it like that Janna. Very true though. Plus, having this happen can make us more sensitive to our target audience.

Jessica said...

Hey Eileen,
It definitely wasn't delivery. Duarte did a great job with this book. It was just me.
Do you read secular books? It might happen to you more there.

Dara said...

It happens all the time. I've lost count the number of books that I've had a similar feeling.

It's one of the main reasons I get things through the library first because I simply can't take being disappointed like that and find myself out $15.

Jessica said...

Dara, I LOVE the library. I would find it very hard to spend that much on a book for an author I didn't know. Now I will shell out four bucks for the Love Inspireds, but rarely do I buy a hardback.
This was one of the few times this feeling happened to me, so it's nice to know you all have felt the same.

Irritable Mother said...

I'm not sure I've had that happen with a book - when I have had great expectations and then they've been shot. But I know what you mean about leaving Jesus out. I can't tolerate that!

Jessica said...

Hey Karen,
I guess I can't either. Well, I think the problem was that she referenced God and His place in our lives so beautifully, that when the characters finally decided to turn back to him, I assumed Jesus would be involved. When he wasn't it just threw me. Very weird but that's what happened. :-)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yes! Ugh. That stinks when that happens, too.

Sarah said...

That hasn't happened to me yet, but it would be a downer if it did. You're right, it's hardly a "Christian" book if Jesus isn't in it.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I experienced something similar when the spiritual thread of a novel was so flimsy it almost became invisible. Sometimes an author can get so hung up on appealing to a non-Christian audience that they dilute the most important part of the message.

So disappointing.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Jennifer! I need to stop by your place. It's been awhile. Thanks for wandering this way and commenting. :-)

Jessica said...

Hey Sarah,
I miss your blog! If you ever start getting withdrawals you can post an honorary post on mine! :-)
The book wasn't published by a Christian publisher, I was just so pulled in by the story that I thought the ending would be stronger.

Jessica said...

Susan,
I agree. Jesus never diluted his message for people. I do think authors do it, but what people need is truth. This soft, mushy stuff isn't going to show someone the amazingness of Jesus. Not if we make him less than what he is.

But to make you feel better, the book had a very strong spiritual thread, so much so that the lack of Jesus at the end was why I was so shocked. I'm thinking that since she went through a secular publisher they probably wanted her to be more generic.

anita said...

Heck yeah, I've had subjectivity zip me out of a story. Just recently, I was trying to read PRODIGAL SUMMER and it got so deep into preaching about the environment (I'm all for taking care of the earth, but they really started to push over the edge to soap-boxish) that I haven't picked it up again since.

Oh, and I'm so out of the loop. What is an ABA publisher?

Angie Ledbetter said...

It is disappointing to invest money, time and emotion into a book to have it let you down by the end. Ug!

Jessica said...

Hey Anita, that would bug me too.

Angie, I totally agree. But if it hadn't been for that one thing, the story itself wouldn't have let me down. So it wasn't really money wasted, I just didn't get the fulfillment I'd been expecting.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I just read a book in two first person POV's and towards the end, the author killed off one of the characters - the one I most liked, and I couldn't finish the book - this is about the 3rd time this has happened to me in the last few months! But, this is the first time I just put the book down, completely losing interest.

colbymarshall said...

Hm...I don't know if I've had that specific instance happen, but I know I've put down a book because I flat out didn't like the MC, which is a subjective thing.

Jessica said...

Yikes Kathryn! I would HATE that.

Hmmm, most of the time I like MCs so that's interesting, Colby. It really is subjective. :-)

Rita Gerlach said...

So much of this has to do with a publisher's guidelines. For example, my novel Surrender the Wind. You will not find a conversion scene, lots of preaching, and scripture quoting. Instead, faith is organic in my characters. They are Christians from the beginning, but they face some trials where they have to lean on God for strength. This is what my publisher wanted as well. With the conflict and the trouble the characters face, faith is the adhesive that holds them together. What most readers are looking for are characters that are true to life, that have believable conflicts and problems that readers can relate to, and often times where characters struggle with their faith...a kind of 'where is God in my life'.

Jessica said...

Yep. If I'd have noticed that it was an ABA publisher then I would've never had the expectations that I developed during the story. But it was an excellent book, don't get me wrong. And the characters did learn about having God in their lives.

jessie said...

There have been a few times in my life, I have actually been so disappointed with a book, I've just chucked it. Very Farenheit 451-ish of me, I know.

I haven't read Mulberry Park, but a Christian message without Christ seems a little incomplete.

Jessica said...

Hmmm, great way to say it Jessie. Maybe that's what I felt, the incompleteness of it.
wow, you chucked some huh? Funny. :-)