Friday, March 06, 2009

Mother's Journals

Mother’s Journals:
Parts 1, 2 and 3

by Zada Connaway

(PublishAmerica / 1-424-16969-0 / 978-1-424-16969-6 / March 2007 / 341 pages / $29.95)

Reviewed by Donna Nordmark Aviles for PODBRAM

Mother’s Journals is the generational story of the Jakers family of Charabourgh, a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When Margery, the matriarch of the family, dies after a lifetime of sacrifice and toil, her grown daughter, Mary, discovers her mother’s writings among her personal effects and becomes captivated by the revelations they hold. A survivor of abuse who believes that she murdered her abuser, Margery struggled to raise her children and retain her dignity during the very difficult years of The Great Depression.

Margery’s granddaughter, Ellen, is a successful businesswoman in the hotel industry who comes under the romantic spell of her new boss and quickly accepts his proposal of marriage. When a move to Southern California and a new baby create changes in their relationship, Ellen’s husband Robert becomes disillusioned and controlling, displaying a temper and aggression that Ellen was unaware he possessed. Ellen is forced to flee to the safety of her family where she tries to regain her sense of self worth and start over. Relatives long lost return to their small town and old wounds are healed as this family reflects on opportunities missed and mistakes made.

Mother’s Journals is a story with much potential. Reading the content of Margery’s journals was most intriguing and very well done. Some scenes are graphic and difficult to read, but are necessary in order to convey the horror of the abuse that Margery suffered.

Many young women will see themselves in Ellen’s story of self discovery as she follows her immediate instinct to abandon her career in favor of staying at home to raise her child, only to find herself regretting that choice when her marriage deteriorates because of what she sees as her loss of ambition and hard edge.

Unfortunately, there are several abrupt character changes that leave the reader wondering, “What happened?” Relationships instantly exist and characters make decisions that make little sense given the circumstances at hand. With more plot development, these twists could have worked but instead, this reader was left scratching her head and filling in the blanks. Additionally, there were long periods of telling what happened when showing, through dialog and action, would have been much more engaging.

Detailed scenes of intimacy place this book at the adult reading level.

See Also: B&N Reviews of Mother's Journals
Zada Connaway's website
Donna's Orphan Train Reviews

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