As many of you know, I’ve been rather scatterbrained and uncommunicative in recent weeks. Thanks to computer deaths and publishing glitches, I’ve even been late with reviews.
So, when I finally finished everything I needed to last night, I took a deep breath, inhaled beautiful sweet, dusty, desert air, and sighed in relief.
Then I remembered that other little thing I had to do—review another book. One I hadn’t quite been sure about when I requested it. from Celebrate Lit
But, I got done with a few other things, and started reading, fully expecting to skim much.
Sometimes, I’m rather ridiculous. Nah, who am I kidding. I’m often ridiculous. This was one of those times. Completely, utterly ridiculous. How, you ask?
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When the Unexpected Delights You with Its Uniqueness
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah: Leanna’s Choice gives the very deceptive appearance of yet just another “prairie bonnet” story. I mean, it has all the makings of it. Miners, Mormons, and schoolteachers. How cliche can you get?
But Angie Dicken didn’t “go there.” She took all those elements we’re so accustomed to seeing and gave us more from them. A rich story that kind of takes all the best of a Romeo and Juliet story (and I admit, there’s not much that you can call good in that) and fixes it. Bravo for that. It has the personal self-sacrifice—without the tantrum death scenes. It has the disapproving families, and it has Perfect love conquering all.
Funny thing about this book?
I can’t tell you if it’s well-written. There certainly wasn’t enough in it that jumped out and disappointed me. Why? I was too engrossed in a little-shared story of American immigrants—the Greeks who came to make a better life for themselves after the Greco-Turkish war.
I have a Greek friend now. If you’ve ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know exactly what it is like to talk and laugh with her. She’s that rich, loving, vibrant.
And you see it in these people in this book. I wanted to lambaste my forefathers for being such narrow-minded jerks. And actually, that’s the only thing that ticked me off about the book. Ms. Dicken (for reasons, I don’t know but am sure she has) continually referred to the Anglo folks as “Americans” but the American Greeks were only Greek. It perpetuated that divide—kind of like we see today with [insert ethnic group here-]Americans vs. [insert ethnic group here].
Forgive the political rant, butfor the love of the God who made us all one people can we just be people! Click To Tweet Can we love and embrace our heritage and our rich cultures without them being a means of looking down on or dividing others? We’re different! So what! That’s beautiful in my not-so-humble (obviously) opinion.
Okay, political rant over.
This book is recommended for anyone who just loves a good story. If you want to see a side of the American west we don’t often see, this is the one for you. If you want to see Utah without the stereotypical Mormon wives and the polygamy that gets a little old and cliched (twice, I could have sworn Ms. Dicken was going there—was going to try to force Leanna into some kind of arrangement only to be saved at the last minute. Thankfully, she didn’t), anyway. If you’re ready for that kind of change, this book is for you.
I will say, though. Characters follow a bit of a stock market graph for their growth arc instead of a lovely, smooth rainbow. It’s more realistic, but sometimes you want to scream, “Can’t you make up your mind?”
But that’s how life is, isn’t it?
Thinking we have it all figured out and then life throwing something at us we couldn’t have anticipated? Yeah. It’s actually rather well done, but it isn’t classic. So if that bothers you, be warned.
One last issue… There is an agenda in this book. Leanna is… progressive in her ideologies. And while I don’t disagree with many of the things she stood for, I do get just a little weary of every historical book showing only the new and improved woman instead of women embracing where they were and working within that. It is, after all, what the majority of women did. So if that bothers you (and usually it does me), then you should know it’s in here. Honestly, though, it more fit this character’s personality than felt like the author’s agenda. I give Ms. Dicken excellent kudos for that.
Again, I can’t tell you if it’s a “good book” or not. I can just tell you that I loved it and I can’t wait to give my copy to my friend, Vicky from Greece. Seeing so many of the things she’s talked about mentioned in here—that was beautiful. Well done, Ms. Dicken!