Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Book Review: Wrapped in Rain

July 10, 2007

We read Charles Martin's When Crickets Cry for book club earlier this year, and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. Wrapped in Rain was an irritating start for me. Martin got off track by telling side stories of characters that weren't central to the book, and this distracted me. It was as if he had a great slice-of-life that he had to get in somewhere, so he squeezed it into this book. Bad idea. His writing in the first half of the book was too trite--he was trying too hard to be clever. (I recognize this pattern because I did it myself in graduate school. And Jane Smiley is not nearly so nice of a critic as I am.) But by the middle of the story, Martin hit his rhythm, leaving behind the pseudo-cleverness and just concentrating on the story itself. And the story itself was wonderful.

One of Martin's good qualities is that he is a Christian writer who doesn't shove sermons down his reader's throat. This novel focuses on two brothers and a neighborhood girl, all now in their 30s. They all have demons to deal with (mental illness, abusive father, abusive husband), and the words of the now-dead Miss Ella, the boys' caretaker/mother, continue to guide them. This is a great feel-good read but not too sappy, with a main characters you just really like. Wrapped in Rain is on my list for the Saturday Book Review challenge.

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