Tuesday, October 11, 2016

WOODLANDS: When a Forever-Single Tub of Plain Yogurt Falls in Love


What even happens in this book?

In Woodlands, we get to see what happens when RJG has committed to an eight book series, but emotionally tapped out sometime after book three. Our Woodlands heroine, Glenbrook local Leah Hudson, has reached the ripe old age of 27 with no marriage prospects and thus, no way to biblically procreate and/or have a will to live. Leah hasn’t done much in life besides not being married. She never left her hometown because she was caring for her elderly, verbally abusive parents. Now they’re dead (yay?) and she’s just kind of...floating through life acting life she’s in a one-man stage performance of the Giving Tree. You see, Leah spends all of her spare time aspiring to be fairy-human hybrid, leaving secret gifts at people’s doorsteps, earning her the nickname of the Glenbrooke Zorro. This is between her other hobbies of “watching other people’s children” “hanging out with rude elderly people” and “being a vegetarian.” Leah’s life of do-goodery is upended when old tan-legs Seth Edwards, delivery man of mystery and great nephew of the old dude that Leah is nice to, strides into Glenbrook and into her life.  
Oh, hey! It's Leah!
Leah likes Seth because of his aforementioned golden gams, lack of basic adult possessions and unsteady work history. Seth likes Leah because she’s nice to everyone and that’s pretty much the beginning and the end of Leah. Also they both don’t eat meat, so there’s that? Seth’s ancient grand-uncle (Franklin) seems to think this is more than enough for lifelong happiness, and mandates in his will that Seth will inherit his fortune...if he marries Leah! What an adorable idea if you are a capricious Greek god who delights in making mere mortals dance like puppets to your whims.
Other things happen. Leah wins a cruise that she doesn’t go on. She let’s Seth’s dog ruin her house but says it’s fine. She then lets the neighborhood children make a table out of her legs, because they really needed something to play ping-pong on. Seth proposes marriage and Leah accepts. You might be wondering if Seth does anything throughout the course of the book to convince the reader that he truly cares about Leah, and is not just interested in her money. No, no he does not. 

Wait Whaaaaa?

There’s a lot of questionable behavior in Glenbrook. This is where we judge it all.

Leah’s family. Holy crap, she needs to cut these fools out of her life like the necrotizing fasciitis that they
Great Uncle Franklin congratulates you on your engagement
are. Her father never lets her forget that as his sixth daughter, she was supposed to be born a boy. One of her non-boy sisters also told her she “had neither the frame nor the frame of mind to ever attract someone stable,” and this is all in just the first chapter. Basically if Leah wrote to Dear Prudence, she would tell her these people are toxic, just because they happen to share your DNA does not mean they get to share in your life if they are choosing to be such insufferable buttfaces.
Franklin, Seth’s great uncle, creates the most diabolical blackmail/dowry situation, I can only assume he was the inspiration for Saws 1-5

Precious Moments
Our favorite quotes

“Leah was ‘auntie’ to lots of children in Glenbrooke. She had lived there all of her twenty-seven years.
Seth (reenactment)
Twenty-seven single years. Twenty-seven years of helping everyone else raise their children.” I would not at all have been surprised if the next sentence entailed Leah curling up into the fetal position clutching a bottle of merlot in each hand, surrounded by her 37 seven cats.
“It’s as if you marched into the garden of my heath, and with one mighty slash of your truth sword, you’ve slain the dragon that has breathed down my neck for my entire life.” When Leah spake this gem to ol’ tan legs Seth and he didn’t throw himself of the mountain they were picnicking on, I was more convinced than ever that he was in it for the dollah dollah billz, y’all.

Conspiracy theory:

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

Angie: Everyone in Glenbrooke secretly wants Leah to remain forever lonely, so they can continue to take advantage of the free childcare. Who will watch their little pixies on the coupled high holidays (New Years’, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, the first day of Pumpkin Spice Lattes) if Leah finds her soulmate? Can. Not. Risk. It.
Elise: Seth is Scott from Whispers evil twin. Because as much of a handsome loser Scott was, he was at least better than Seth. Scott at least knew someone with a boat and seem attracted to the female protagonist. Seth was astoundingly a notch down on the “is an adult and has life together totem pole.” He is in his 29 and sleeps on an air mattress. He uses a beach towel as a bath towel. I bet if you looked in his cabinet it would be full of 32 oz plastic McDonald’s cups that he handwashed. He seems as attracted to Leah as he is to his own dog. The dog that he never takes care of and always leaves at Leah’s house. This is the love interest Leah has waited for. Leah, who owns her own home. Leah, who has built a community for herself and has interests and hobbies. Sure these interests are all related to being a doormat made of plain yogurt, but at least it’s something. Seth is Scott’s evil twin and I hope Scott manages to swoop in and save Leah from his evil brother before they get married. They can sell cocaine out of their stolen boat! Leah has built up enough good karma to be a drug kingpin for a few years.
Woodlands: A Love Story for the Ages

Final Judgement:

Is it worth the $0.01 on Amazon?
If you want to read a book where the author clearly hates her own protagonist and would scrunch up her face and say, “Bless her heart” if she knew her in real life, Woodlands is the book for you. If single Christian woman over the age of twenty-five make you deeply uncomfortable and you want to see them married off at all costs, Woodlands is the book for you. If “tan legs” is the only item on your dreamboat, life partner checklist, Woodlands is the book for you. If you like finishing a book and being left with a sense of uneasiness wondering if this fictional protagonist was going to be murdered by her new, super-rich fiancĂ© in the unwritten epilogue, Woodlands is most definitely for you.

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