Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dry tinder + gasoline + gunpowder + a match = ?

Just like some ingredients should guarantee a fire, you'd think some ingredients should guarantee a fire novel. Take a pregnant psychic, a sassy best friend, a charming but no-good drunken cheating abusive husband, the American bicentennial, and a dollop of small-town charm, and you should get something amazing, right?

Not in the case of The Saints and Sinners of Okay County by Dayna Dunbar. Aletta Honor is the pregnant psychic -- a real one, who's been able to see into people's lives of futures by touching them since childhood. (To dispense with the inevitable "If she was psychic, shouldn't she have known what an asshole she was marrying?" Dunbar explains that Aletta's gift never did work on her own flesh and blood.) And yeah, she's the one with the rotten husband. At the beginning of the book, he's left her, seven months pregnant, to whore around in order to determine "if that's the life he wants." He decides no, but doesn't quit drinking, and they get into a violent argument about it.

I know it all sounds pretty good so far, but it wasn't. Not to me. The tension in this novel was conspicuous in its absence. I had a hard time staying interested long enough to keep Aletta's kids straight from Joy's kids (Joy is the sassy best friend, BTW)and the other random kids that happened through the novel. The best parts were the flashbacks to Aletta's youth and the development of her gift, but that wasn't enough to keep me going. I abandoned it around page 75. Call it strike two for this most recent library haul.

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