Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Wonderland Creek" Review

"Nobody can read too much. That's like saying someone breathes too much."

Alice Grace Ripley has spent most of her life with her nose stuck in a book. But a real-life adventure is about to catch up with her.

After being let go from her job as a librarian and losing her boyfriend, Alice leaves her hometown of Blue Island, Illinois, for the hills of eastern Kentucky. The Depression has hit hard all over the nation but especially in the coal mining towns. Alice ventures to the town of Acorn, Kentucky, to deliver books to the small library there. What she finds is more than she ever bargained for.

‘Wonderland Creek’ is the perfect name for this novel and the perfect name for the creek in the book, considering that ‘Alice’ is dropped into a chaotic new life that she was not expecting, complete with crazy characters. Once Alice arrives in Acorn, she is off on a whirlwind adventure – attempted shootings, fake deaths, feuds, buried treasure, and primitive conditions – that sometimes left my head spinning.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, this novel had me laughing out loud at times, and I identified with the main character, Alice, more than I care to admit. The characters were complex and had depth, but the happenings were sometimes so crazy that I felt as if someone was pulling my leg.

I am not sure how I felt about the character of Lillie, either. I liked her, and I appreciated her strength and faith, but she was such a contradiction. She had a wonderful love for Jesus, but she and Mack lied throughout the entire book! I am not saying that I wouldn’t lie in a very serious situation (I probably would if my daughter’s life or my husband’s life was in danger), but she lied (or omitted the truth) about so many things that it became manipulative (and annoying) rather than ‘helpful.’

As for the romance, I liked how it unfolded. It seemed realistic, since it was understated, so much so that I was still wondering close to the end which character she would end up with.

I always enjoy when a character takes steps of growth during a novel, and Alice definitely does in Wonderland Creek. She grows in her compassion for and understanding of people, and she grows in her faith.

The best part of this novel for me was the historical aspect. It was fascinating to read about the Packhorse Librarians who were commissioned under President Roosevelt’s New Deal. I had never heard of this before, and I really enjoyed learning about the program and how it helped those who lived in hard-to-reach areas during the Depression.

I will give Wonderland Creek … 3 ½ BookWorms

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers through their blogging program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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