A BOOK REVIEWED by Madelyn Wiley, a professional writing major at Taylor University Fort Wayne
Cold, cruel words from an unsympathetic mouth. Harsh, quick judgments. A small town where relentless gossip spreads faster than a manically sugar-crazed two-year old with a bag of candies and chocolates. Does this sound like a relaxing “summer breeze?” Such is the scene in Summer Breeze by psychologist Gary Chapman and freelance writer Catherine Palmer.
Main marriage couple, Kim and Derek Finley, along with their ten-year old twins, Lydia and Luke, find themselves stuck in a continual swirling vortex of clichés. Derek is the stepfather of the twins and finds himself in a constant battle against the never ending, “You’re not my real father” routine. Luke has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, putting Kim into a frenzied panic. Lydia hates not being the center of attention and lashes out, insistent on being just like her best friend, who supposedly gets away with everything from dating boys and using gaudy makeup to wearing shorts to church. In order to “help” the situation, none other than the mother-in-law moves in. A mysterious drowning has water patrolman Derek Finley obsessed with his work. So, his mother, Miranda, officially moves in, and criticizes Kim on every aspect of her lifestyle and insists on innocent intentions in every crisis. Gossiping old women of the town only add to the marital doldrums and triteness of the entire plot.
In this second edition to “The Seasons of Marriage” series, the co-authors claim to illustrate the “summer” of marriage. With springtime marriage, everything is new and fresh, and it then eases into the fun and safe times of summer. Keeping this in mind while reading, I expected to see it demonstrated by the main couple of the book. So, I read. I waited. I read some more. I waited some more. I ignored cliché after cliché and grew almost desperate for something original. Not only was I left starving for creative plots, characters, and dialogues, I also found a theme contradictive to the placed title and purpose of the book.
A reoccurring theme of hypocritical Christians did not seem to relate much to this supposed “fun and safe” theme of the book. The ceaseless fighting of Kim and Derek caused me to wonder how this was the “summertime” of marriage. Even with make-ups and resolutions, it seemed more like a fall or winter with all the icy tensions. An easy book to read nonetheless, it was unfortunately made complicated in that several times events that had already taken place in the first book were not clearly explained. Having never read the first book, it took me several chapters to understand certain characters or situations.
When reading a Christian novel, I excitedly await to learn something new about faith or to expand my perspective on Christ. I was sorely disappointed to find the entire book nothing but milk, perhaps even baby formula, for a reader craving hearty meat. Take away value: zero.
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