Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Better View of Paradise - Randy Sue Coburn

I received this book via Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion as a opportunity to participate in the novel's blog tour. When I received it, I see palm trees, ocean, something that looks like sarongs (that would make my hips look big), and a big sticker on the front that says "Redbook Red Hot Summer Read". Well. What that says to me is Chick Lit, right? I'm OK with that. It is good for a woman's soul to read Chick Lit (although I am basically offended by the term). What I found was just a bit beyond something chick-ish, however. Come with me while we dig a little deeper.

Stevie is a renowned landscape architect. She lives in NYC, and has just finished a high-profile job in Chicago. One that could really put her on the map. Instead, she gets raked over the coals by a critic that doesn't like her benches, and her long-term boyfriend dumps her simultaneously. A woman who appears to be crazy approaches her, seeming to know her father, with a DVD of familial linkage. The icing on the cake? Her father calls her from his home in Hawaii. He is dying of lung cancer.

Stevie sweeps up her dysfunctional life and rushes to her father's bedside. Her father has always been an unemotional man, one that insists on picking oneself up by the bootstraps. What she finds is an emotionally raw, vulnerable man, withering away. Stevie begins to attempt to nurture what is foreign to her...her new extended family she never knew about, her father's obsession with baseball and especially the Cubbies (gotta love the Cubs, despite their frailties and the billy goat curse), and a damaged veterinarian with whom she feels an immediate connection.

What we have here is something for everyone...a successful woman in her field who "goes home again". The spiritual mysticism of Hawaii. The healing forces of a dog and a good book. The elusive bond between father and daughter. The religion of baseball. The opportunity to love again, to create life in the face of death, and to rekindle relationships of the soul. While this novel is not unpredictable...we know this story, is the anthem of everywoman. And Randy Sue Coburn captures it beautifully.

Her prose is eloquent, but just a tad hard-nosed. She has done her homework. She obviously understands what it means to have lost, the nuances of being a daughter, a lover and a friend, and struggling to make one's own name. I was swept away with the story, and while predictable, very pleasurable. You love the eccentric characters, and want to adopt them as your own.

You want to hear the best news of all? I have two copies to give away. People, this is my first giveaway. Let's stop and pause for a moment of coolness. Please leave a comment, letting me know where you would go if you could "go home". If you are one of my followers, you will be entered into the giveaway twice. Also, if you please, include an e-mail address so I can contact you. I will draw two names on 8/19 for the winners!

4 out of 5 stars


Book Bird Dog said...

I love Hawaii. My son was married there and I'd go there again for another family get together.

I'd love to read this book and I am a follower.

Beth F said...

I spent two summers doing research in Hawaii when I was in grad school, so I'm always interested in books that take place there. I am a follower.

BFish (dot) Reads (at) gmail

Unknown said...

Congratulations on holding your first giveaway!

I'm lucky enough not to want to go anywhere - I'm home already!

bermudaonion said...

Since I've been a vagabond all of my life, I don't know where I'd go if I could "go home." Home for me is usually where we live at the time. Congrats on your first giveaway! milou2ster(at)

Amy said...

Hooray for a giveaway!

If I could go home, it would be the Ozarks. I'd see my brother, some friends, and go out for a long hike in the hills.

Literary Feline said...

"That would make my hips look big" --Haha! Me too, I'm sure. :-)

This does sound like a good one, Sandy. Like others have said, I enjoy being Hawaii. I wouldn't mind settling there forever. I'd just need to adjust to the humidity . . .

What interests me most about this book though is Stevie and her relationship with her father.

To answer your question . . . Home is where my husband is. A sappy answer, I know, but true. :-)

literaryfeline AT gmail DOT com

Lauren said...

EXCELLENT review! It really made me want to read the book! (And as you already know - i am a follower!)

Congrats on your first giveaway! It's exciting, isn't it? :)

The Bumbles said...

Nope - not falling for it. No matter how much baseball there is, still sounds like chick lit to me!

No need to enter me in this giveaway since I'm not sure it is something I'd like, but I do like your question about where I would go if I could go home.

As a lifelong mover, I always felt like I was moving away from home where all the rest of our family came from, but the farther away I got, the more I realized home is just a word. Family and home do not always go hand in hand. Home is where you keep your stuff. I don't always want to be there. So this fall I am returning for a visit to my extended family back in NC - where my roots are.

Darlene said...

I'd love to enter. I'd like to read this one. Of course I'm already an ardent follower. If I could go 'home' I'd go back to the house I grew up in. I still miss it.

bj19662001 (at) yahoo (dot) ca

Amy said...

I would love to know why you're offended by the term chick lit! :)

Sounds like a great book!

I would go to St. Louis to go home.

ds said...

Think The Bumbles & I have a lot in common...I suspect I'd read more of these books if they were not labeled "chick lit", but I don't know. No need to throw my name into the hat(give somebody else 2 shots).Just wanted to acknowledge your coolness--you are VERY cool--and thank you for the interesting question. Surprisingly, it has more than one answer. Congratulations!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Amy - I don't know, I guess I don't consider myself a girly girl, and the reputation of chick lit novels is that they are shallow and catty, and they revolve around shopping and guys. Alot of them aren't, but that is their reputation. I would prefer "women's fiction" or something like that!

Bumbles and ds - While it may look like chick lit, it really isn't, per my description above. It is pretty deep, it just so happens that the protagonist is a woman with a woman's issues. Bumbles, I thought for sure you would be interested! This book is made for you!

Melody said...

Sounds like a good read, Sandy! Thanks for your lovely review!

I'm home already...can't think of anywhere else I'd call home except my own!! :P

melreadingcorner (AT) gmail (DOT) com

caite said...

See, I might have dismissed this one from the cover, not being a true fan of the chick lit. But now your review has peaked my interest.

Throw my hat in the ring please!

caite said...

ooops....follow you on Google Reader.

and although I have never lived there, I would like to go 'home' to the coast of Maine.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

This book sounds terrific no matter what it's label. Put my name in the hat, please. I'm also a vagabond but when I get to the mountains, it feels like home. So, I'd pick the Rocky Mountains for home.


Randy Sue said...

Just caught up with all the wonderful back-and-forth here and wanted to say how much I appreciate the thoughtful dialogue!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Randy Sue, thanks for coming by to visit! Reading your book was a pleasure!

Paula said...

Sounds like a great read! I am a follower of your blog and if I could go home again it would be back to Texas..

Debs Desk said...

I have only lived in Texaas, so if I could go home it would be to my childhood home. The one my mom lives in now. Please include me in your giveaway.

Anonymous said...

There are so many place I`d feel comfortable enough to call home, but right now I feel like Vancouver, BC could be called home. I love it there.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Anna said...

Oops, I missed the giveaway, but I just wanted to say I enjoyed your review. Sounds like an interesting book.

Diary of an Eccentric