Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Look Again - Lisa Scottoline (audio)


"Look Again" was the April selection for our Book Club. I'd not read anything by this author, although I do have a couple of her books sitting on my shelves. I went into the audio stone cold - no preconceptions or knowledge of the topic of the book.

Ellen Gleeson is your typical working single-parent, raising a spirited 3 year-old son whom she adopted as a baby. Layoffs threaten her position as a journalist, but hopes that the tall, dark and handsome boss of hers, with whom she has a mutual crush, might protect her. But when she sees a little white card in the mail entitled "Have You Seen This Child?", and the age-progressed picture looks eerily like her little boy, her life is turned upside down. Ellen goes into investigative journalist mode, determined to get at the truth, and also make the right decision for her little boy. She ultimately discovers much more than she ever expected.

Despite the subject matter, which is very serious, the tone of the book still came across as light. Maybe it was the prose, maybe it was the narrator, maybe it was the Latin Antonio Banderas-ish boss that was so easily wooed, I'm not sure. It was also predictable, and tightly tied up with a bow at the end, which I am sure contributed to my lasting impression. Scottoline does throw out good discussion questions and ethical quandaries though, which I am sure will fuel our Book Club chatter. If you discovered your child was adopted illegally, would you say anything or keep it to yourself? OK, so say you think you might say something, but what if you found out that the biological parents of your child aren't model citizens, then what? Is it our right to judge, and play God with this information? What would YOU do to protect your family?

In her subplot, the author also paints a picture of life as a single parent with a more than full-time job...the chaos, the jealousy of a babysitter spending more time with the child than the parent, the never-ending exhaustion. Scottoline, a single parent herself, seems to be intimate with these emotions. She also addresses the loss of a mother, and the dynamics of a father/daughter relationship when dad establishes a new life wants to remarry. All of these topics are what elevate this book from boorishly mediocre to an entertaining read.

So on to the Book Club discussion:

The girls all seemed to feel a little snarky about the book. There was one who hadn't finished it, and wanted us to fill her in. When we walked her through the last half of the book, it became obvious how absolutely ludicrous the whole climax and chain of events really were. However, as I expected, we did have spirited discussion over wine and appetizers. We covered the gamut, including how far we would be willing to protect our children, examples of adoption nightmares, the downside of open adoptions, cheating spouses (which OF COURSE got us steaming about Jesse James and Tiger Woods and the cop-out of "rehab"), the feasibility of single-parent adoptions, and other books we've read with similar topics.

The bottom line on Look Again was lukewarm. I believe most of us would give her other books another chance though.

2.5 out of 5 stars






21 comments:

Julie P. said...

I've found that these types of books usually aren't the best book club discussion books. Although it does sound like your discussion ended up being interesting!

Ti said...

I've seen this book before but it had a different cover. It didn't lure me in then because it sounded sort of "made for TVish". Something I'd see on the Hallmark or Liftime channel.

To me, books like these are a dime a dozen. I'm glad you guys had something to discuss though. There's nothing worse than a book club dud that produces zero discussion.

Kathy (mommysreading) said...

I have the audio of this from the library and just this morning, put it on hubby's desk to upload for me. I doubt that I would ever "read" this, especially after your review, but I think it would be okay to listen to. I like to be entertained while I do my chores and errands, and I think this would still entertain.

Thanks for your thoughts. I think I made the right decision going audio.

bermudaonion said...

I had heard such high praise for Scottoline's work that I listened to one of her audio books earlier this year and kind of felt the same way. The story felt like something I'd read before.

Serena said...

My mom adores Scottoline's humor and her books. It seems like this one did generate some discussion which is the point of book club.

I have not read this author's books, though I know where to get my hands on them, but I have seen the author at the National Book Festival and she was funny.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

It seems people are either rabid fans of Scottoline or contemptuous! I suspect I would fall into the latter group.

farmlanebooks said...

I haven't heard of this book before, but the plot sounds exactly like a film I watched recently - wish I could remember the name! It is a shame it wasn't that good, because it does sound like a good premise.

Shelley said...

Right this minute my pound puppy on the couch looks exactly like that picture of the cat.

Just here, a little late, to volunteer for the 30's.

Zibilee said...

The premise of this book sounds interesting, but your reaction to it makes me think that it's one I probably wouldn't like. I find that a lot of these types of books are just too predictable for my tastes, so I am always interested in finding one that's really unique. It sounds like this is not the one I've been looking for. Wonderful and honest review Sandy. I hope that you next book club pick is a better read!

Kathleen said...

Sounds like your book club was fun even if the book wasn't the best. I read this a few months ago and would rate it the same. I found the whole thing just too predictable.

JoAnn said...

Sometimes a snarky book club meeting is fun! Don't think this one would be for me...

Iliana said...

I still haven't read any of her books but I always get the feeling they are a bit more "light".. I got to see Lisa Scottoline at an author event several years ago and she was a hoot. Maybe that's why I'm assuming her books have a lighter tone despite the subject matter.

Well glad to hear you guys still had a great discussion and I'm with JoAnn, sometimes a bit of snark is good :)

Jenners said...

I read maybe two of Ms. Scottline's books and I never bothered to read anymore so I don't know if your first impression is actually off base. : )

Nymeth said...

I don't know much about Tiger Woods (he doesn't make the news here nearly as much as I imagine he does there), but I completely agree that going into rehab for something like cheating is completely ridiculous. Are people not adults? Can they not take responability for their decisions? Apparently not :\

Sounds like book club was fun, even of the book itself could have been better.

caite said...

I have read many of her books and usually find them entertaining, but most of them have been in her Rosato & Associates series. I think it helps when you are vested in the characters over several books.

Alyce said...

I've been paying close attention to reviews of this book, hoping that I would finally see one that gives it a decent rating. I may just have to put it directly back onto PBS and cut my losses.

The Bumbles said...

If all books were winners we'd have nothing to complain about and your book group wouldn't be as entertaining. Glad that a mediocre read still led to a vibrant discussion. I really need to find me one of these face to face book groups.

Jenny said...

Hi Sandy, I followed you over from Heather's blog (Raging Bibliomania) because I saw that you are in Orlando... I love meeting fellow Floridian bloggers! (I'm in Sanford for now but have lived all over Orlando and Brevard and Seminole Counties, lol)

I was just about to start this book as soon as I got off the computer. But now I'm not sure if I want to! I got it a while ago and was going to read it because I owe it to someone in a game I played on paperbackswap, but there are soooo many other books I want to read that now I'm not sure, lol. We'll see.... sounds like you guys had a great conversation though!! =)

Alice Teh said...

Sorry this book wasn't that good but it did provide a good discussion for your book club. :D

S. Krishna said...

Uh oh - I have this one to review! Maybe I'll push it farther down on the list...

Melissa M said...

Scottoline is just so-so for me. Her books aren't bad, but they aren't all that memorable either. Glad you got some discussion out of it though!