Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Flood Girls

Author: Richard Fifield
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Gallery Books
First Published: February 2, 2016
First Line: "Harmonica, December 1990 - Every night, Frank played harmonica for the cats."

Book Description from GoodReads: This snappy, sassy redemption story set in small-town Montana is “a wild and crazy debut novel by a talented young writer” (Jackie Collins), filled with an uproarious and unforgettable cast of characters you won’t want to leave behind.

Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.

Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.

In the spirit of Empire Falls and A League of Their Own, with the caustic wit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure, Richard Fifield’s hilarious and heartwarming debut will have you laughing through tears.

My Rating: 2/5 stars

My Review: I've been hearing a lot of positive buzz about this book so I thought I'd give it a shot.  As a former youth baseball player and someone living in a small town it sounded right up my alley.  The Flood Girls is touted as 'hilarious and heartwarming' but sadly this wasn't a hit with me.  In fact, I struggled to finish it.  How is it that certain books are absolutely adored by some and then there are those like me who wonder if we're reading the same book? 

This debut novel of Richard Fifield, is a tale of redemption and has its gaggle of offbeat (often outlandish) characters and occasional witty/crass banter.  A large portion of the book is devoted to Rachel's addiction and making amends to those she's hurt in the past so I was surprised when she, and the other characters, lacked depth and emotion.  I never felt like I was drawn into their lives but merely an outside observer.  It didn't help matters that many of these women felt like clich├ęs. A few were perpetually mean spirited and I didn't appreciate the grand sweeping stereotypes (strong women + plaid = lesbian, really?).  The only character I truly liked was 12-year-old Jake, the eccentric, 'mature for his age' boy who has a penchant for putting a sassy outfit together and is an avid fan of both Madonna and Jackie Collins.

While I appreciate that the author dealt with serious topics (addiction, dysfunction and forgiveness), I also enjoyed the baseball scenes and found his writing to be fairly strong.  Unfortunately, there many things that I didn't like which overshadowed my enjoyment.  The characters were one-dimensional, the plot felt contrived and the ending, while tragic, was sudden and felt like it was thrown in like a pinch hitter to garner the emotional home run in the nick of time.  Sadly, this book was a strike out for me.

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