Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Middle Ground - Zoe Whittal

I received this novel from Librarything from the Early Reviewers Program. I applied for this book and other "Rapid Reads" because I thought it might be of use to my ESL readers.

This is from the back cover:
"When everything goes wrong at once, Missy Turner begins to make some unusual choices.
Missy Turner thinks of herself as the most ordinary woman in the world. She has a lot to be thankful for—a great kid, a loving husband, a job she enjoys and the security of living in the small town where she was born. Then one day everything gets turned upside down—she loses her job, catches her husband making out with the neighbor and is briefly taken hostage by a young man who robs the local cafĂ©. With her world rapidly falling apart, Missy finds herself questioning the certainties she's lived with her whole life."

Sounds like it could be interesting, right?

Well, I have to say that I did not like this book -- and that is an understatement!

I found that the characters were flat, the setting non-existent and the plot improbable and cliche -- reminded me of a tired spaghetti western. "Jerry used to beat the crap out of my older brother in the high school. He'd parlayed his schoolyard bullying into a job with the local force. I don't hate a lot of people, but I pretty much hate Jerry. Besides bullying my brother, he also tried to date-rape my sister at the prom. He still has a scar on the side of his face from a bottle she'd smashed into it." p.31

Further, I actively abhorred Missy Turner, (what a dumb name to give a character!). After being held a gunpoint, she agrees to meet up with the guy. Then inexplicably she leaves her life behind and begins to drive across the country with this new found "love", stopping periodically at hotels for sex.

Now, although I don't expect anyone to read this book, I should mention that I am going to spoil the plot for those of you who actually do chose to fork over $10.00 for this good for nothing but kindling.

So, since the guy is broke and proud and doesn't want to accept anymore that Missy Turner has been footing the bill for their meanderings, he decides to hold up a gas station. At this moment, the brilliant protagonist asks herself, "Who was this man I'd just spent the better part of two days with? The one I was fantasizing about marrying? Did losing everything in one fell swoop mean I'd lost my mind? Any semblance of intelligence and character?" (p.109) Well I can certainly answer that! Any woman with half a brain doesn't get into a car with a stranger who is known to her as a criminal and expect him to transform into a knight in shining armour!!! I mean DAH!!!! Then, even after he shoots her, she says to herself, "The weirdest thing is, sometimes I think about Red in prison and I feel bad. After everything he did, I still feel compassion. Like he's some one-eyed kitten who can't stop hurting himself. I know this is crazy. I'm still absorbing it all. I think I've still got a ways to go. The truth is, I never knew him at all." p. 118 In my opinion, Missy Turner is not only stupid but also pathetic...and insult to all women.

So what am I going to do with this book (I can't bring myself to call it a "novel".) I thought about setting it free with Book Crossings, but that seems cruel and unusual to any unsuspecting reader. Hmm, what to do???


  1. Well, at least it was a rapid read. Better luck with your next book pick!

  2. Thanks Wanda! It was pretty awful.