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.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Meredith and Fred the Blow Up Doll Shop for Jeans…for the Last Time

It started like most wonderfully rare, sunny Whidbey Island days do, with ­­­a delightful walk down the island’s main drag, where quaint shops lined the picturesque brick promenade. “Oh, babe, we should pop
Hm, size six? Oh, I doubt that, dear. Let's hit the 8/10 rack.
in here and finally get you some new jeans.” Meredith grinned at the sales girl as she strolled into the upscale shop with her arm around Fred’s inflated back. The sales girl looked at Meredith with a slow-blinking stare. “Is there some sort of problem?” Meredith’s grin shifted to a tight, polite smile.

            The girl shook herself a little, as if she were trying to wake herself from a trance. “Of course not, what can I help you find today?” with a curious head tilt.
            “This guy is so hard to shop for, but I’ve had enough. It’s time to replace these raggedy cargo shorts with some nice jeans.”
            “Okay, we might have some that would work for his…um…figure in the back,” the girl motioned to the clearance section. Meredith made sure Fred’s outstretched arms didn’t knock over any mannequins on the way to the racks stuffed with oddly sized apparel. “Do we know it’s size?” the girl asked, her voice shaking a little.
            “I think you mean his size, and I’m not sure. We haven’t been together too long so I don’t know his sizes. But you don’t know mine either, do you Freddie?” Meredith giggled as people did in the beginning stages of a relationship and gave Fred’s airy middle a light hug. She was always so aware of Fred’s fragility, how quickly he could spring a leak or tear and it would all be over.  
                  “I’m going to have Donny help you since he’s our best sizer,” the girl said as she backed away from Meredith and Fred cautiously.
                  Meredith muttered to Fred once the sales girl was out of range, “Well, she was rude.” She
Buy online, Mere, where you can let your freak flag fly
waited for Fred to contribute to the conversation for once, but as always, she was met with a stiff, plastic silence. “Nothing to say? Really?” she turned Fred so he was forced to meet her gaze. Stop it, Meredith, she told herself. Fred is the best thing that ever happened to you.
                  “Donny will help us, won’t he, baby?” she cooed, trying to convince herself that everything was okay. “You’re just going to look so sexy in your new jeans. And we’re burning these shorts by the way.” Fred just looked back at her like he always did, with a painted-on smile.
            “I hear we’re looking for some jeans?” asked Donny, the peppy salesman who suddenly appeared behind the couple. “Ah!” he yelled as Meredith almost fell into a rack of collared shirts with surprise. “What the hell is that?” he yelled, recoiling in disgust. “Stacey!” he yelled toward the front of the store where the sales girl who had been helping Meredith and Fred crouched behind the counter, laughing hysterically. “What the hell! You didn’t tell me I was sizing a blow up doll.”
            “Um, excuse me. ‘That’ is my boyfriend,” Meredith reached across his middle to grip Fred’s hand. She winced as the hard, plastic seam gouged into her palm.
            “You do know that is a blow up doll, don’t you, ma’am? Are you under the impression that you are in San Francisco or LA? This is Mother Effing Whidbey Island. We wear boat shoes. We drink pinot. We tie our sweaters around our necks like we’re extras on Saved by the Bell. We do not bring our goddamn blow up dolls to the shops to play dress-up. We leave them in Portland at our open-minded brother’s house.”
            Donny took the pen that was hanging on a lanyard around his neck and stabbed Fred right in the
The Ryan Gosling Double Standard.
neck. Meredith flinched at the sound of Fred popping, the sound of “the end.” She grabbed a stripped nautical sweater from a display table and headed to the checkout counter. “Gift receipt?” Stacy asked with a smirk.
            “No, I’m wearing this out,” Meredith said with a tight tone. She left her receipt on the counter, ripped off the sweater’s tag, and looped it around her neck. With a flip of her honey blond hair, she held her head high and strutted toward the exit, the only sound in the shop was Fred, hissing as the final glugs of air (Meredith’s own breath, in fact) exited his deflated, limp body. If she listened closely, she could almost hear him saying, “Avenge me,” in a sweet, sad whisper.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

JC Says You Can't Get the Big D: Evangelical Traumatic Flashback Corner

Angie's Story: 
Evangelical Wedding Ceremony (minus the Unity candle)
One of Jake’s constant refrains in Waterfalls is that marriage is a commitment, an unbreakable contract signed in the Blood of the Lamb to bind you for all eternity to your mate. While Christians have similar or even higher divorce rates than the general, hell-bound public, many are hardliners when it comes to breaking that unbreakable vow. My seventh grade Bible teacher was so smug when she recounted the story of her daughter-in-law sittiing her down before the wedding and saying, "Just so you know, 'divorce' is not a word in my vocabulary," which even as a seventh grader, made me think: why are you using a word that isn't in your vocabulary? We both know that you know what the word means, homegirl.

Technically, according to Le Bible, the only legitimate grounds for divorce is adultery. So some people upon hearing about a marriage dissolving for another reason, like a spouse being physically abused, cluck their tongues and say that divorce is not biblically sanctioned. (In case you were wondering these people are definite, 100% jackasses.) I've heard that this biblical standard was actually included to protect old timey Jewish women since they would be ruined if their husband divorced them. (Back then, they did not have a kicky First Wives Club to get you through your marriage ending). According to one of my teachers, divorce in the year of our Lord was as simple as a man turning around three times chanting, "I divorce you. I divorce you. I divorce you." And just like that, BAM! with no legal fees, you were back on the Jersualem market, along with the fish, loaves, and myrhh. Does this sound
made up? You betcha. But so do many of the "facts" I learned Evangelical school.

Jewish divorce circa 50 BC
When I was a junior higher, trying really hard to make corduroy overalls happen, our high school youth pastor had an affair with a high schooler. (I’ll wait until you’re done dry-heaving). He ended up leaving a wife and four kids in the lurch (and he was not the only pastor affiliated with our church/school to go down that carnal path). While everyone felt terrible for his wife, there was also an underlying sense of relief. Like, well, she gets a free pass on the big D since her husband gave her a biblical out with his a-lyin’ and a-cheatin’. 
Take your holy pass and run, beyotch!
Now if you aren’t as fortunate as this poor youth pastor’s wife, you might find yourself screwed by this strict, black-and-white interpretation of biblical divorce:

Dear God, my spouse, while remaining physically faithful to me, will not stop hitting on my 87-year-old GramGram. His ribald comments are making her very uncomfortable and when confronted about his behavior, he invites my entire family to: “Eat my shorts, dillholes!” Can I get a divorce? GOD SAYS NO!

Dear God, my spouse collects human body parts in the freezer that she keeps chained shut in the basement. She left it unlocked one day and there must be at least ten different people’s torsos, feet, and arms in there. They seem to be all different ages and races but I can’t find any of the heads. Can I get a divorce? GOD SAYS NO!

Dear God, first thing every morning, my spouse makes herself vomit directly onto my sleeping face. I’ve asked her why she does this, is it involuntary, does she have some sort of tic or past trauma that would cause her to do this to me every morning? All she says is it makes her giggle and she needs a joyful start to her day, so she’s never going to stop. Can I get a divorce? GOD SAYS NO!

Dear God, my spouse has replaced me with our golden doodle, Mitzy. She has taken my spot on the bed, and I’m relegated to the floor. He dresses Mitzy in my clothes, and when I complain, he just nudges her collar and leash in my direction. It’s been ten months now, and I’m starting to wonder if maybe I actually am a dog. Can I get a divorce? GOD SAYS NO!
Marge, I believe you and Mitzy have already met.

Commitment is great and important. Breaking up a marriage is no joke and should be done with care. But if you staunchly cling to that stipulation adultery is the only grounds for divorce, you are asking some people to live as a dog because their spouse prefers the company of their golden doodle. Don’t do that, ya dillhole!