There are very few things that cause me to hesitate when accepting a book for review. 1. Animal torture. No, hell no, what it God’s name is wrong with you…please go away. 2. Erotica. I have this debilitating inability to properly review naughty bits (if you catch my drift) and 3. Cancer. Why cancer? Well… other then the fact that several members of my immediate family have it, I have a hard to separating fact from fiction. Let me explain. The details needed to make a book about this particular dieses successful make my brain wander. I have, on several occasions, found myself so carried away by my own inner dialogue that I miss EVERYTHING I read. Imagine for a second the time needed to finish a book when you have to read the same 10 pages 5 times. (I’ll do the math for you…. FOREVER!)
Anyways, when Elias Anderson emailed me about his novel “Blood and Gasoline” I quickly agreed. (We’ll just call this little act masochism.) Not two minutes later, however, I sat rigidly on my couch, staring at my laptop and hoping to all heaven that I could find away to take back my words. I had changed my mind, I DID NOT want to read this book. Of course… my willpower (and by willpower I mean the overwhelming need to not look like a total whack job) won out, and before I knew it, I was diving in…without my floaties on.
What I very quickly discovered (much to my relief) was that Anderson’s novel was not so much about the cancer itself, but the struggle in dealing with ones issues; knowing when to start living and stop loathing the hand you were dealt. A search for redemption one might call it.
Cody’s father Avery is a total ass. To be more specific he is an abusive, alcoholic, control freak with a horrid temper and now…a terminal case of lung cancer. Sad right? Maybe not, see…Avery has never been a loving man, or a generous one. From a young age he took out his anger on those around him, and drank his family into debt, but despite all of this, his son Cody has come home to take care of him. Cody is the polar opposite of Avery, he is kind, understanding, and though he has piles of built up anger towards his father, he always does the right thing. One night however things change. Avery is once again rushed to the hospital and Cody is faced with the possibility of his fathers death. Is he happy about this? Does he have a right to be? Before he can answer these questions karma steps in and gives Avery another chance. It also gave Cody one…in the form of a beautiful EMT named Perla. Quickly realizing that there is more to life than catering to the demands of a man who hates him; Cody begins his life, and Avery (though still very sick) realizes his time to be a proper father is fading fast. Will Cody be able to forgive the man who for years talked down to him and made him feel worthless? Will Avery finally make peace with the only family he has left, and why exactly is Perla so important to this tiny family’s recovery?
Now, before I get to the “goods” let me blurt out the bad, (No worries…there’s only 1) This book was a formatting disaster. I’m not certain if it was just my copy or if this is a problem with his published version as well, but oh Holy baby Jesus!!!! Here is the exact problem I had. Every 6 or 7 paragraphs the flow of the book would be interrupted by the word PAGE. That’s right… I would find myself, knee deep in emotion when BAM, out of the blue and stuck randomly in the middle of a heartbreaking sentence I would find myself stumbling over a misplaced word. Distracting does not even begin to describe what it did to the story line.
Ok, now on to the good.
The fact that I had an overwhelming urge to punch Avery through-out the read speaks strongly of Anderson’s ability as a writer. In what way you ask? I strongly believe that if an author has the ability to invoke strong emotions in their reader then they have done their job of building their characters correctly. I felt sorry for Cody, I wanted to give him a hug. I wanted to knock Avery’s oxygen tank off his nose, and punch Perla’s uncle in the family jewels. All of these just solidify the fact that I was properly engage in the story I was reading. There is nothing more positive than that.
The plot (though predictable in the beginning,) also left me in awe. (What is that now…. 2 points for Anderson?) While it wasn’t the most conventional ending, (and at one point I was almost certain the “twist” had been a grievous mistake,) by the time I flipped to the last page I understood why it had to be written that way, and more importantly, how the book wouldn’t have been as successful without it. Maybe next time I’ll learn to have more faith in the author and the story he is trying to tell.
All in all, a devastating read, but a good one.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Our actions shape the people we become, pay close attention to your daily activities.
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[Rating:3.5/5] Note: I took away a 1/2 star for the editing debacle.