Tuesday, June 9, 2015

ECHOES: Lauren/Wren: A Study in Failure

Synopsis:

What even happens in this book?


This is only the beginning.

Written when both the internet and I were innocent young thangs, Echoes follows Lauren as she “enters the wild, uncharted territory of the Internet on her home computer” to find a man to fill the giant, gaping hole in her life that should’ve been filled with friends, family, and a general sense of well-being. Echoes opens with our heroine, Lauren, getting her ass handed to her by a bad breakup and an even badder perm. After hearing of her dumped state, Lauren’s smelly brother, Brad, shows up with a computer for her. He finds a virtual pen pal for her by trolling a rando chatroom for Christians. KC, a 7-Up lovin’ journalist, shares Lauren’s love of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and yard sales...like a couple of octogenarians trapped in twenty-something bodies. In between sending “electronic letters” to KC, Lauren attends many, many potlucks that we can only assume are a plot construct to make sure she doesn’t die alone in her apartment with Hawthorne, her feline roommate, eating her. Gripping stuff.

Elise: [Echoes] was like 3/4 of a novel about someone who is not doing well. Lauren has nothing and thinks wistfully back to HIGH SCHOOL when she had “some sort of direction”? Also at one point she failed at “California.” She failed at an entire state.

            Angie:. I wanted to smother her with a pillow because that would've been a kindness 
            for her and for the readers

Natural consequence of the Internet.
Echoes finally gets interesting in the final 30 pages when Lauren schedules a F2F meeting with KC at Multnomah Falls in Portland where he lives. Unfortunately, Wren chickens out (as she should if she doesn’t want her skin to be used to make a lamp) when she sees KC at the falls. Lauren then hightails it to Glenbrook and reconnects with our former protagonists--Heiress Jessica and Ol’ Thick Thighs Teri--and their happy husbands--Kyle and Gordon. When Firefighter Kyle’s brother, Kenton, bails on a Jessica-funded, group Hawaii trip, Lauren is offered his place for free and this marks the first time anything good has ever happened to her. Ever.

A few days into the trip, Kenton decides to show up in Hawaii anyway. Surprise! But it’s not just Kenton brother of Firefighter Kyle, it’s also KC!!! Lauren faints like a Victorian dowager. They then share a dinner together where Lauren accidentally orders KC a 7-Up, nearly revealing their secret connection. KC can’t handle Lauren’s hotness and believes he is being unfaithful to Wren, the cat lover who stood him up at the falls. He all but says, “Away from me, Satan!” to Lauren until she’s finally able to explain that it is she! Wren! the fellow nerd who does not know how to hold a conversation without heavily quoting the Brownings. KC/Kenton gets down on one knee but Lauren/Wren makes her very first good life decision by telling him that they should get to know each other outside of soda preferences before embarking on a nuptial journey for the ages.
What is 7-Up?

Wait…wha???:

There is a lot of questionable behavior in Glenbrook. This is where we judge it all.
1. Wren printed out all of KC’s letters and kept them in a binder. In a rare moment of self-awareness, Lauren actually said, if anyone knew about this, they would think she was nuts. Nuts, pathologically lonely, in need of human contact. So many options, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. Two paragraphs before this she said to her cat, “What’s happening to me, Hawthorne? All my friends are getting married!” It’s okay, Lauren, you have a binder full of love...or is it despair?

Like this..only 1000% less cool.
2.  KC and Lauren are Orphan Black-style clones of each other. Lauren has some pretty unrealistic romantic expectations for her future husband including spontaneous poetry. Not only is KC that type, but he also shares all of her old lady interests. All of them. KC’s one unique interest--Irish Breakfast Tea--is quickly taken on by Lauren. They are essentially a mirror image of each other. If you are a hetero lady, the goal should not be to find yourself with man parts.
3.  During one of Lauren’s many potlucks hosted at her apartment, a creepy dude she barely knew, Garry, busted in as if that’s something non-psychopaths do. Not only did this creeper drop in unannounced and uninvited! But he appeared after she had NOT given him her address or any other identifying information! Did he look her up in a phonebook? Did doxxing exist in 1996? (This is why everyone should install a panic room. It pays for itself in “Peace of Mind” currency.)

Precious Moments: 

Our favorite quotes...
“You are the fragrance of my day.” [What Lauren wants her future husband to say after giving her “just because” flowers]
“…[Ran] his hand down her leg, smearing the guacamole.” [5 points to RJG creating a word-cringe]
[Brad’s comments on the internet] “Get ready to ride the info highway, baby! And be sure fasten your seat belt, because this highway ain’t paved.”
“'She poured some milk into the kitten's dish...'So you wanna hang out with me and wait for the doorbell to ring? It could take years you know.'"


Conspiracy Theories:

We tell you what's really going down in Glenbrook.

It takes a special kind of person...
Angie: Lauren’s (only) friend Mindy is based off of me, even though I was in sixth grade when this book was published.

Mindy is sassy. Mindy has an under-developed verbal filter. Mindy has a husband much taller than she is who humors her wackier tendencies. Mindy is the kind of person who takes something delicious like mint chocolate chip ice cream and elevates it by adding crushed oreos because life is too damn short. Mindy will take an opportunity to dress up like Dolly Parton as the precious gift it is. I am Mindy.


Elise: KC/Kenton is a chat-bot.

I believe that KC/Kenton is actually an early version of the Smarter Child chat-bot, a program designed to make you think you were chatting with a sentient being. Lauren was unaware that KC was just a binary code, and she truly believed that she had found a successful, single 27 year old Christian man who liked antiquing and Victorian poetry. I think one night, Lauren’s sadness created a bummer miasma which reacted with the residual chemical fumes of her bad perm and created KC’s corporeal form. Lauren’s sadness was so strong that it rewrote history, making KC a relative of Kyle and part of the Glenbrook crew. This to me is more plausible than KC/Kenton falling in love with a 24 year old shut-in with literally nothing going on in her life.

Final Judgment:

Is it worth the $0.01 on Amazon?

Would've rather read about these two arguing garnishes for 300 pages
Already feeling a little blue? Don’t read Echoes. Or maybe do read Echoes because you will feel exponentially better about yourself when compared to the saddest of all sacks: Lauren. This book is the Christian Romance version of You’ve Got Mail only sadder, lamer, and sorely missing a delightful dose of Tom Hanks. So instead of two adorable, fully functional adults finding love Nora Ephron-style, we have Lauren/Wren and KC, two depressing internet users trading Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning quotes, tea preferences, and antiquing finds for about 200 pages. RJG took the most boring character imaginable, split it in two, making one a boy and one a girl, and gave them each a PC. If you’re a 7-Up fan and the highlight of your entire life is an awkward workplace potluck, this book’s for you.

2 comments:

  1. I was WAITING for this review! For some reason I loved this book as a teen (perhaps because I was a homeschool shut-in?). I reread it over and over! During this post I once again attracted my husband's attention due to my giggling and uncontrollable snorts. This is a gem. P.S. I shared several of your posts with my book club, and after we stopped laughing, it inspired the funniest conversation I have had lately. You girls are amazeballs!

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    1. Haha, glad your book club had a good time with it. I definitely don't remember thinking Echoes was this lame when I read it as a youngster. But then again, the internet was a mysterious and wonderous place back then. I bet modern day Lauren/Wren is deep into some cat memes.

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