An editor and avid reader gives her frank thoughts about everything she reads. More reviews and book blather on fefferbooks.com!
Digital copy provided by author in exchange for review.
I want to preface this review by saying that I feel strongly about encouraging new authors and writing in general. As a result, I've really struggled with publishing this review--my thoughts about being encouraging and being honest have left me really conflicted in this case.
In Awakening Foster Kelly, Cara Rosalie Olsen has spent 669 pages sharing a story that largely takes place in about the last 200. I have absolutely no qualms with a lengthy tome--I've read many a classic novel in my day, and so I initially took the book's length as a delightful challenge.
Instead, this book is simply long. Wordy. Overly aware of its own verbiage, and oftimes distractingly awkward. The story (which I truly did not grasp until I'd read half the book) is narrated by Foster, a character who is maddeningly insecure, indecisive, and introspective--and we're along for the ride as she agonizes over everything she thinks, feels, and dithers over. It might be an interesting device, if it weren't so pervasive and pedantic. Every idea takes just plain ages to develop: three pages for Foster to describe a room, seven pages to decide whether or not to listen to something...it just becomes difficult to care about what she's up to.
The book's largest problem, though, is its dire need for editing. Ignoring the copyediting issues (which are extreme--not just typos and homonym errors that are common in self-published novels; here bizarre syntax and word choice problems abound), the content is wholly unfettered. The text is filled with followed tangents, unnecessary secondary characters, and all kinds of vignettes that make little sense in context. Put simply, there is no dramatic structure: no sense of direction as one reads, and though I pressed on because I was certain there must be a story in all of it, somewhere, I found the experience frustrating and exhausting.
There is, by the way, a story there. It's rough, and needs some work, but I believe it has some potential. I found myself surprised while reading the last 15% or so of the novel--the dialogue became far more dynamic, the word choices less awkward, the characters more authentic. There are some nice moments near the end, particularly between Foster and a new friend from school. Additionally, Foster's friends Jake and Emily are fairly delightful throughout, and her mother is a nice addition. I just wish Olsen had been able to get some help before releasing her novel as "finished." In truth, I'm a little disappointed for her.
I don't recall any language, and there's no sex or violence. I'd like to just not give any stars at all, yet, and send the book back for another draft, but if I'm going to rate it as-is, I can only give 1 star.