Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Blue Moon Bay" Review

Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate was sent to me for review by Bethany House Publishers. It is the second novel by this author that takes place in Moses Lake, Texas, but it can be read as a standalone book.

When Heather Hampton left Moses Lake, Texas, after high school, her plan was to never return. But a lucrative architectural project with her family’s own farmland draws her back to Moses Lake from the secure life she has made in Seattle.

Heather’s plans for a quick trip are waylaid for one reason or another, and she discovers that there is more going on with the property and with her family than she thought. Enter the local banker, Blaine Underhill (and Heather’s high school crush), and things get even more interesting.

The longer Heather remains in Moses Lake, the more she realizes that she doesn’t really know her family…or herself. As she discovers more and more secrets, Heather must find out the truth of the past before she can have the faith it will take to go forward into her own future.

It seems to be somewhat of a trend in Christian fiction today to write stories of characters who “return home” to “discover secrets from their past.” (I went back and counted five of these type books that I reviewed on my blog just within the last year). While that is not necessarily a bad thing, I’m wondering if I am getting a bit tired of this plot. I am writing this to say that my enjoyment of Blue Moon Bay might have been somewhat affected by the fact that I was already a bit weary of this plot line.

The very beginning of this book got me interested in the characters and this particular story right away. However, after Heather arrived in Moses Lake, I thought the narrative moved slowly and was very repetitive. The novel is written in first person, and sometimes the internal monologue was taxing. The main character talked to herself using questions during the entire book. There was one section that seemed to just be paragraphs of endless “thought questions”. To me, that is just not easy or fun to read.

After getting through the first ¾ or so of the book, the story finally came into its own, and it was excellent through the end. What kept me reading through most of the book was that I was very interested in the secrets of this family. I felt invested in the story, and the ending was great. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to actually get there.

Although the ending was satisfactory, I think it would have been better if the pieces of the puzzle (the clues to the mystery, the revelation of family secrets) had been scattered throughout the book and then put together at the end rather than having no pieces for most of the book and then having it all being revealed in the last few chapters. It’s fun to try to figure out what’s going on with the mystery and with the secrets in a book, and in this novel, there just seemed to be no way to completely figure out the biggest piece of the mystery on my own. There didn’t seem to be enough clues leading up to the revelation at the end, but perhaps this was because of the first person narrative. Since Heather knew nothing of the secrets until the end, the reader didn’t either.

Even though we are just getting one point-of-view in this story, I thought that the other characters were written well. Also, the writing style, when the story was actually moving along, was humorous when it needed to be humorous and had depth (and some great meaningful quotes) when it needed to have depth.

There were two parts of this book that I actually liked better than the story. One was the sermon that was delivered by the pastor of the Lakeshore Community Church. He talked about love – what the world thinks about love and how God loves. I just really connected to what he was saying, and I appreciated the author including a good sermon in the book. The other part that I liked was the quotes and sayings that were at the beginning of each chapter in the book. They were writings that were left on the wall of the Waterbird Bait & Grocery, a tradition in Moses Lake. The quotes related to the story, but they can also stand alone, and they made the story much more interesting.

Blue Moon Bay, which started as a somewhat tedious novel, was redeemed by a complex and satisfying ending and by the little extras sprinkled throughout.

I will give Blue Moon Bay … 3 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. 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."

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Very similar to my feelings on the book, and you actually mentioned a few points that I meant to include in my review, but forgot (such as the repetition of some of Heather's thought processes). Have you read the first book in the series, Larkspur Cove? I actually liked it quite a bit better than Blue Moon Bay.