Thursday, September 3, 2009

Saving Madeline

I am a huge reader. Take one look in my apartment and you can tell there's a definite book worm lurking. I read whatever I can get my hands on, and read 5+ books at a time. I also go through periods, where I favor one genre over another.

Currently, I am back in my LDS book phase, and I was hitting a bit of a wall. I didn't want to read anything doctrinal; I was looking for something to read that was nonfiction to entertain my brain as I commute to work. A major problem/flaw with LDS fiction, however, is that a lot of the stories all follow the same pattern. Cute people meet up, date, and fall in love and get married. If we're lucky, there is a twist in the plot; the man in the story is a commitment-phobe. The girl is too scattered to realize her feelings. All nice and light and, to some degree, entertaining, but I was really craving something out of the norm.

I was very fortunate to get a chance at a sneak peek of one writer's latest work. Rachel Ann Nunes is one of the most prolific LDS fiction writers of our time (Well, my time, anyway, as a member of just under 7 years anyway!) and I jumped at the chance to read her manuscript. I admit it; initially, when I got more active in the church and found that she often wrote what can be considered "LDS chick lit" I expected the same formula and was hesitant to read her books, having been very anti-anything-girly at the time. However, I was given several of her books as gifts, notably The Independence Club and the four books in the Huntington Family series, and actually found myself enjoying them, enough so that I saw the opportunity to read Saving Madeline as something I would love to do.

And I am glad I did.

Although a work of fiction, the premise of the book could have come out of any newspaper across the country (and, having read about the author's inspiration, it appears it has done just that). A divorced man is arrested for kidnapping his own daughter, the four-year old title character, Madeline. After he is caught, he explains to the police, the district attorney, and his lawyer, that he had to take his daughter as his ex-wife was heavily into the drug scene, to the point where the father had reported seeing drugs in plain sight during his visits. Throughout the book, you read about this father's love for his child and his attempts to save her from falling victim to her mother's devices.

One of the great things about this book is that it can be read by so many people from different walks of life. A lot of LDS fiction does tend to rely on knowing Mormon culture, but this book is not like that. It is the kind of book I can give to anyone and they would enjoy it.

Also, Mrs. Nunes is a wonderful author, and her storytelling skills are excellent. Throughout the story, I felt the perspectives of the main characters; Parker, the father rescuing his daughter; as well as Caitlin, his public defender, who is struggling with her feelings about defending a guilty man and wanting to believe that Parker's motives were genuinely sincere.

There were many subplots as well, such as Caitlin's actions that cost her client his freedom, and the interactions between Caitlin, two of her colleagues, and those with Parker. At the end of the novel, it feels as though there were no strings left dangling, and, despite the genre of the novel, the bittersweet ending tied all the loose ends together. Oftentimes we can feel cheated that we didn't know what happened to this character or that person, but such is not the case for this story.

In a way, I have my own sad ending with this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly to the point where a part of me wished it didn't end and kept going, but like all good books should do, it entertained me and left me in anticipation for more.


Danyelle Ferguson said...

Thank you for the book review. I'm really interested in reading this book!

Suze said...

I hope I win!!!

Wendy said...

Can't wait to read the book - hopefully I can win one!