Friday, February 18, 2011

After The Leaves Fall

This is a quickie, because I seriously need to tell someone that I just unwittingly read a fucking Christian novel and I feel UNCLEAN.

I downloaded this book for the same reason I download anything – it was free, and available (and still is free, I believe, if you want to subject yourself to it). I skimmed the plot summary and it seemed like a reasonably interesting story. It’s chock full of themes that have a certain resonance to me (dead parents, frequent identity crises, floundering, etc) and the first few chapters are really beautifully written. I mean, really, well done, first-time-novel-writer Nicole Baart. You hooked my cynical heart with your agonizingly poetic discussions of death and time and the human condition.

I was a full two-thirds of the way through the book before I could confirm my suspicion that this was a book inherently about god. There is NOTHING overt in the title or description on Amazon that goes HEY I’M A CHRISTIAN BOOK YOU GUYS JUST FYI. Sinister. Decidedly NOT Christ-like. I mean, it never got all preachy and weird, which I think may have been actually a point against it. I feel like if you’re going to push religion at me, please be upfront and beat me over the head with it. Do not try and sneakily slide Jesus into subtext. I have, like, a serious loathing of religious allegory. If you’re going to tell me a story, tell me a story. If you’re going to try and convert me, then give a bitch a heads up. Do not pretend you are entertaining me and then slip your Glory Hand up my fucking skirt. I did not give you permission. You are raping my brain, asshole.

Whatever. It’s a book about a girl who’s mom is a total jerk and abandons her at the tender age of 9. Then her dad gets cancer and dies when she’s 15. So she spends a lot of time meandering and wondering who she is and how she fits in with society as a whole. She has insane and unrequited love for her BFF/Neighbor Dude, which is a constant source of heartbreak and misery. She goes off to college and randomly picks Engineering as her major and realizes that Holy Fuck Engineering Is Totally Hard, and the whole thing devolves into a sort of panicky My Life Is A Failure type swan song. She hooks up with some d-bag and gets knocked up. THEN shit gets ultra, suddenly capital-G-God is everywhere, and she drops out of school to raise her bastard child with her grandmother in a farmhouse and talks a lot about her spiritual journey. The ending is abrupt and kind of badly written; which makes me believe that this author’s true talents lie in actual storytelling and not cliché’ Christian rhetoric.

The first few chapters are worth it (it’s free, for gods sake), and it does hook you so you’ll probably end up finishing it if you get that far. Just saying. You’ve been warned. At some point, Jesus will jump out from behind a rock and teabag your face.