This is a book I found on Bookbub. It looked interesting in some ways — but in others I had reservations. Frequently when I struggle to make a decision about reading a book, I find that I fall in love with it. It is usually the books I know I want to read and pick them up without much thought that give me trouble. This one, unfortunately, was an exception. I struggled with this one right from the first, but kept reading hoping it would get better. Most of the reviews I have read on this one were good — in fact they were excellent — with only a few exceptions. Because of this I settled in for what I was looking forward to as a good read. Over 200 pages in, I was still waiting.
To say the beginning (200 pages worth) of the book was extremely slow is a misnomer. In fact, I would have to say this is an understatement. Mosher could have provided the background information and insight into Jim’s family in a quarter of that — half at the most. It just seemed to go on and on. Add to that the fact that the editing was atrocious and it makes for a painfully tough read. I try to have patience with editing issues when they crop up and not let them influence my opinion of a book and its story. But in this case the editing errors were so blatant that they actually disrupted the story. Punctuation in the middle of sentences, incorrect words that made absolutely no sense, grammar issues and more. Simply put — I found it almost impossible to follow the story because every page there were editing issues.
The story, itself, started out with an uphill battle. Unfortunately, it comes across as a mirror image of To Kill a Mockingbird if it were poorly written. The narrator — Jim Kinneson — is an interesting character. But he spends more than half the book simply telling background, and family anecdotes that appear to have nothing to do with the story, whatsoever. And while I understand that the purpose of all this background information is important for not only providing foundation for the story, but also helping to develop characters — it just got to be too much. I started to feel like Mosher lost sight of where he was going with the story and was bogged down in the immediate chapter he happened to be writing at that time.
For all of that development, the characters never really took on much depth. Or they were sporadic at best. Some of the characters seemed very well developed, like Reverend Andrews, his son Nate and Jim. The were colorful and lively and easy to identify with. But for the most part — the characters were transparent and predictable. Many of them were extremely stereotypical in the most obvious ways, with no depth beyond exactly what the reader expected them to be. I felt like Jim was the male version of Scout and very poorly matched at that. And the character names were simply obnoxious in the extreme. Elijah, Resolved and Welcome Kinneson was the over the top examples — but the book is full of character names that simply challenged all belief and once again detracted from the story.
The technical writing was well done, if lacking in creativity. I started to wonder if Mosher was obsessed with Baseball and fishing. The two subjects play such a central role that they almost overwhelm the whole book. Not only that — but they are presented using the slang and topic specific jargon — as if everyone in the universe knows about baseball and fishing. More than once I had to look up terms — just to figure out what Mosher was talking about. I don’t mind having to look up words that I don’t know what they mean. It expands the vocabulary and adds depth to a book. But when it becomes excessive — simply because the author assumes that the reader shares these interests so much that they know every reference to the game of baseball — it comes across as a little overbearing and presumptive.
Overall — I don’t know that this is one that I would recommend. The story gets lost on more than one occasion and the reader has to really work just to follow wherever the book is trying to go. It fails to live up to the expectations of the read — which, unfortunately for Mosher, are exceptionally high because he decided to challenge a real classic in literary art from the outset.