Every once in a while we come across a book that does not necessarily suck but is not stellar-beyond-imagination either. We don’t hate it, but of course, not hating a book does not automatically translate to loving it. I felt that way about ‘Rainy Day Women’ by Jane Yardley.
It’s in fact a very good read—a well-told story about a super smart sixteen-year old heroine with a distinct voice. The setting of the story is also charming in a quirky kind of way; she’s the only girl among four children—a family of geniuses living in a haunted house during 70’s era. That premise is golden, right? So where exactly did it fall short and why am I only giving it three stars?
I don’t blame the book. It’s an honest-to-goodness classic ‘it’s not you book, it’s me’-scenario. I finished the book in just a day, which says a lot about how zippy the narrative was, but I guess I just probably wasn’t in the right mood for it that day. To be completely fair, I really have no major issues about the story because as far as plot is concerned, it met all my expectations. I even think the ending was terrific, and that gets a lot of brownie points in my book. Also, Jo Starkey, our heroine, says things like:
“On and on and on—controlled and deliberate, the exercise of a guitarist’s practiced fingers; to want someone so bad you could beg. Gagging for it. The plots of novels, the lyrics of torch songs , the sound of singers weeping into a mike. So it was all true, then—it sucked the power from you, flooded your brain. Eventually, something happened to me that bleached out even these thoughts; a long, creamy, tickly sensation that made my limbs shudder, something partly pleasant and partly not, totally outside my control. So it was true, then. He laughed softly into my hair.
You might argue that rating a book should solely consist of its content’s merit and that’s an excellent point. I am however the kind of reviewer who includes the entirety of the reading experience in evaluating how good a book is. I believe that along with the strength of storytelling, we should also consider barometers of how much we’ve enjoyed reading the story itself—Was the story compelling enough for me to care about the characters? Was it so memorable that I couldn’t stop thinking what happened to them even after the book ended? Was my mind blown? Will the book make me gush gibberish when I sit down to write a review for it? Will I shove this book down the throats of my friends and shamelessly tell them that they need to read this book before they die?
Sure, I probably am harsh and might be asking too much of this book, but this has always been my definition of an excellent read. How nice it would be if we live in a black-and-white world where books are really just either terrible or outstanding. Sadly, there will always be books falling in between the gray areas. And there will always be days when readers can get really too demanding on the books they read, but at the end of the day a great book shouldn’t really fail under that excuse, right? So I’m not closing my door on this one. Someday, I might pick up Rainy Day Women again and give it another shot—who knows? When that time comes I might probably laugh out loud at how wrong this review post was.