Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Pages of Her Life by James L. Rubart

The Pages of Her Life

I love reading books set in the PNW. Such a beautiful place. 

Here’s the summary of Jim Rubart's latest book, The Pages of Her Life:

How do you stand up for yourself when it means losing everything?

Allison Moore is making it. Barely. The Seattle architecture firm she started with her best friend is struggling, but at least they’re free from the games played by the corporate world. She’s gotten over her divorce. And while her dad’s recent passing is tough, their relationship had never been easy.

Then the bomb drops. Her dad was living a secret life and left her mom in massive debt.

As Allison scrambles to help her mom find a way out, she’s given a journal, anonymously, during a visit to her favorite coffee shop. The pressure to rescue her mom mounts, and Allison pours her fears and heartache into the journal.

But then the unexplainable happens. The words in the journal, her words, begin to disappear. And new ones fill the empty spaces—words that force her to look at everything she knows about herself in a new light.

Ignoring those words could cost her everything . . . but so could embracing them.

Here’s my review:

The story started out a little slow. But knowing Jim’s work, I trusted he was laying a foundation for a strong story. He was. 

The main theme was standing up for one’s self, written from a female point of view. (We’ll get to POV in a bit. 😊) I loved this topic for fiction because readers follow a character trying to discern who’s on her side and where she needs to set boundaries. So often, we’re taught to comply, but the further we go in life, the more we realize we need to set boundaries and be as objective as possible as we test everything. We shouldn't be afraid to deeply inspect the motives of those around us. We tend to ignore warnings just to “keep the peace.” That pattern will lead to trouble, eventually, in my experience. 

The antagonist isn’t one you’d expect, and isn’t that so fitting? Those who “talk the talk” do not always have a changed heart. Neither do they want the best for those around them. The story will challenge preconceptions on several fronts, and I liked this aspect. I kept asking myself, “What is the author trying to say?” This thoughtful approach to Jim's books is needed, and I think this is partly what makes his work so popular. You are an active participant in the ride, like with The Shack. Constantly asking yourself what you believe, how you’d react to the situations, wondering about the author's message, trying to solve the dilemmas all while asking yourself moral questions. Those elements are hallmarks of this genre.

There may be minor spoilers in the next paragraph. Read with caution:

Let’s talk about POV. The author’s note reads something like: If you liked the female POV, thank my wife. If you didn’t, blame me. Overall, I thought the female POV was very strong. (Thanks, Darci!) But there was one rather large flaw. (Sorry, Jim.) A woman is very concerned for her personal safety—always. Early in the story, the protagonist heads off on a jog up a solitary mountain trail (love the setting!) and doesn’t bring a dog or a weapon. (We think; we aren’t told she carries self-protection until much later.) By the descriptions, I pictured the author running the same route, sharing his experienceenjoying the solitude, the challenge, the beauty. Not worrying about being assaulted because he was running alone. That’s not how women think. Women cannot presume safety anywhere, especially not on an uninhabited trail on a mountainside with no security and plenty of seclusion. She wouldn't close her eyes for ten minutes while on the mountaintop. She wouldn’t chase a male through the woods, not even for answers, and she’d want a shower after returning, not a mug of hot tea. 

One of my favorite aspects of this novel was the call to write in a journal. I have totes filled with journals dating back decades. I loved the premise of God answering the main character!

The protagonist was rather weak much of the time. This was probably due to the need to draw a contrast and build the character change arc. Still, she frustrated me at times. Open your eyes! Be discerning and assertive! There are other areas where she is strong, which is true of most of us—strengths and weaknesses, not always in balance. She goes after her dreams. She makes tough decisionsleaving the known for the unknown. I rooted for her to have victory in all the areas of her life, while analyzing my own life.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you like to really think about your current read.