Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: 32 Candles (Ernessa T. Carter)

Title: 32 Candles
Author: Ernessa T. Carter
Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 335
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: TLC Tour, PoC
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher as part of a TLC Tour 
Summary (from the back of the book): Davie Jones--an ugly duckling growing up in small-town Mississippi with a mother who couldn't get any meaner--is positive her life couldn't be any worse. Just when she's resigned herself to her fate, she sees a movie that will change her life--Sixteen Candles. But in her case, life doesn't imitate art. Tormented in school and hopelessly in unrequited love with a handsome football player, Davie finds it bittersweet to dream of Molly Ringwald endings. When a cruel school prank goes too far, Davie leaves the life she knows and reinvents herself in the glittery world of Hollywood--as a beautiful and successful lounge singer. Just as she's about to ride off into the LA sunset, the past comes back with a vengeance, threatening to crush Davie's dreams--and break her heart again.


Review: I am a sucker for the movie Sixteen Candles (and Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink). Yes, I am a true child of the 1980s. So when I was offered this book to review I jumped at the chance. There are a lot of references to Molly Ringwald, Molly Ringwald endings, and her movies. Truthfully? It made me want to rent them and watch them again!

I was immediately drawn into the character of Davidia at the start of this book. She is vulnerable, teased, downtrodden and abused, but somehow has found a way to be strong and survive by giving up speaking. People can be so cruel to those who are different from them and children are certainly no exception. Ernessa T. Carter showed this in a very real way. I also liked the way Davidia, now Davie, changed when she arrived in Los Angeles, again surviving through her own strength, but this time with the kindness of those around her. About two-thirds of the way through the book we start to learn things about Davie that we didn't know and I am not sure it's consistent with who she is. I don't want to spoil the plot so I won't expand on that, but for me it felt like it came out of left field. Then, the strong Davie comes back again and I felt like the book was on track.

The other characters in the book were also good, especially since I think we all look for friends to surround ourselves with that fill a need. Davie needed a mother, a father, and people who supported her no matter what and she found that at the restaurant/bar where she worked. She also lived within her means, taking care not to take on more than she could handle financially or emotionally.

The ending is definitely cheesy and Molly Ringwald would be proud. It was fitting and I liked it.


Geography Connection:
(photo on right: Ernessa T. Carter, author)

Click to see my updated Google Map. This is my second book this year set in Mississippi and Ernessa T. Carter did an amazing job capturing life in Mississippi in a small town, especially with the accented dialog. Actually, once the main character leaves Glass, Mississippi, most of the book takes place in Los Angeles, but I am counting it as Mississippi because there are also a lot of flashbacks and talk about growing up (and I've already got a lot of pins on Los Angeles) :-)

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