Friday, March 23, 2012

She Makes It Look Easy - Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth has got to be one of the NICEST people you will ever meet, and she is equally inspirational.  Did you know she has SIX KIDS?  She is a quiet, gentle Christian woman who is grounded in her values and beliefs.  Our crazy band of bloggers got the privilege of dining with her and three other authors at SIBA in Charleston last year, and I walked away quite impressed with her.  I'm thrilled that she will be attending the UCF Book Festival next weekend.  


So I knew it was high time that I actually read one of her books, lest I be shamed.  I've had my eye on her  work for some time, but, well, you know my story. 


Synopsis:  After years of scrimping and saving, Ariel and her family (consisting of a husband and three rambunctious young boys) have moved into the house of their dreams.  She finds out quickly, however, that that doesn't make her life perfect.  Her husband works all the time, and her kids drive her mad some days.  Enter her neighbor Justine, who seems to have life all figured out...two perfect little girls, a perfect husband, the perfect figure, her house tidy, and the ringleader of the neighborhood soccer moms.  Justine takes Ariel under her wing, and Ariel is thrilled to have found a friend.


Except things aren't always what they seem, are they?  In alternating points of view between Ariel and Justine, we learn what is really going on behind closed doors.  And Ariel begins to suspect that the women she most admires, whose life she most covets, may not be perfect after all.  


My thoughts:  Often when readers hear that an author is a writer of Christian fiction, they turn and run the other direction (even the church-going ones).  I think is because the genre has a reputation for brow-beating and lecturing.  And that is simply not what Marybeth is all about.  Faith is subtly mentioned in her novels, but there is so much more going on.


Let's step back and take a look at "She Makes It Look Easy".  This story contains recurring themes of infidelity, hypocrisy, exploiting others for personal gain, and deceit.  These are all relevant issues in our lives today.  In fact, I bet every person that reads this will recognize a few people in their own lives who resemble characters in the story.  But the issues are handled with a gentle, deft touch that I would expect from Marybeth, who allows that fine line between right and wrong to come through without any sermonizing.  


Her characters truly felt like they came right off the page and into my home.  When we had dinner together in Charleston, she shared some of the inspirations for the voices of Ariel and Justine, and I could hear the voices in my head as I was reading.  Additionally, the prose is fluid and compelling.  So if you want a quick read that provides an excellent snapshot into the life of a suburban mom, look no further.


4 out of 5 stars


   

12 comments:

Jenny said...

I bought this at the ucf thing last year and have yet to read it. I like that it is subtle with its messages. Sounds great!

bermudaonion said...

Marybeth has actually come under fire for having a divorced character in one of her books. It's a shame too, because I think that's what makes her books special - real characters.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sort of ironic that someone who has six kids AND is a writer would title a book "She Makes It Look Easy" !!! Sounds like a good book - so many good authors at UCF and SIBA!

Anita said...

I need to read this. Um in one week.

Zibilee said...

I am so glad you loved this one! It was hard not to hate Justine a little bit (ok, a lot) but I think that Marybeth does a lot to make even her misguided behavior seem real and sometimes understandable. I loved this book so much, and can't wait to see Marybeth and catch up!

Alyce said...

It's nice that it's a good Christian fiction book. I know that years ago it was difficult not only to find those that weren't lecturing, but also difficult to find any that were very well written.

Julie P. said...

Kathy has mentioned how nice Marybeth is before too. This sounds like a good one.

Kathleen said...

I have to admit that I do shy away from Christian Fiction for the reasons you outline here. However, this book is very appealing to me and I am in awe of an author who finds time to write while raising 6 children!

Jenners said...

I tend to shy away from Christian fiction but this sounds like it might be palatable. Lord knows I know women like Justine.

Amy said...

I enjoyed this book as well.

Little Girl Lost said...

I have never really tried Christian fiction, but your review makes this book sound fascinating. Faith as a background for events that can be identified in real life... I look forward to reading She makes it look easy.
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Melissa said...

I've always stayed away from Christian fiction. Like you said, it often seems preachy, but this one sounds really good.