#88 ~ The Gargoyle

July 24, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Posted in Books | 7 Comments
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The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Death often brings about new life. After his near fatal car crash that left him permanently disfigured and emasculated by a significant amount of 3rd degree burns, the unnamed narrator of this novel spent a great deal of his lengthy hospital stay planning his eventual suicide. His life as a porn star and producer of adult films went up in smoke like his skin. He had no interest in making a new life after the death of his good looks and his livelihood – at least not until Marianne Engel, a patient in the hospital’s mental health unit, unexpectedly begins visiting his bedside and telling him how their lives have been intertwined now for several hundred years.

The Gargoyle follows the narrator through his hospital recovery and beyond in a compelling way.  While the narrator’s salacious past and gruesome present are fascinating, Marianne Engel’s stories are poetic, mystical, and engrossing.  I do not want to reveal too much of the plot here.  It’s best to go into this book knowing as little as possible. Just expect to go on a ride like no other.  One image that has not left me since reading this book is of the woman who stands watch for an hour each day by the edge of the cliff, never losing hope that her beloved husband will return.  I can smell the salt in the air as the breeze whips her hair about in the wind.  Her anguish makes that story of love all the more beautiful.  There is no down time in this book.  Each section moves the story forward.

Words cannot accurately express how intense and wonderful The Gargoyle is. From the first scenes of the unnamed protagonist’s fiery car crash to the conclusion, I was hooked into his world of burnt flesh and the possibility of a love strong enough to be tested by fire over and over again.  It was a pleasure to go to hell and back with Andrew Davidson.  This book is inspiring.  It will encourage its readers to write.  It will encourage its readers to come back again.  Trust me, you definitely must read this book.

*******

To buy this novel, click here.

#45 ~ The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn

November 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Books, Family, Reading, Religion | Leave a comment
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The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn by Janis Hallowell

The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn tells the story of Francesca, a young teenager from a broken home, who comes to believe the hype when a local homeless man makes his belief that she is the holy mother of a new savior. This is an interesting story that explores the nature of fantastical spiritual beliefs on a girl, her friend, her family, her neighbors, and her town.

There are many different themes that could be discussed here:

  • Single mothers and the struggle to raise children without losing oneself
  • Religious/spiritual fanatics
  • Schizophrenia and the homeless
  • Young girls cutting themselves
  • Phantom pregnancies

What I am choosing to discuss is the role of the parent when a teenage daughter becomes pregnant. Francesca believes that she is pregnant and her body is showing the physical signs, including morning sickness. Francesca lives at first with the fear of being pregnant, but this fear soon skews as she grows to believe that she has spiritual powers and that the life she is nurturing inside her womb is someone special.

Francesca’s mother, an atheist, at first overlooks the changes in her daughter’s body because she is shocked and overwhelmed at the role that religious fanatics are playing in her life. When Anne finally asks her and learns that Francesca is pregnant, she is doubly shocked. She immediately makes arrangements for a pregnancy test and abortion with her gynecologist. Francesca knows that her mother plans on getting her an abortion, but she has no intentions of letting that happen.

Had Anne forced her child to keep her child or even place the child for an adoption, she would have been portrayed as a villain. Although I did like her character, I found it equally wrong to push an abortion upon your child – even more so when you do so under the guise of “taking care of everything.” Yes, women have fought for the legal right to have an abortion, but does that mean that this should always be the plan of action when an unplanned pregnancy occurs? How is a forced abortion any better for women than forcing a woman to raise or place a baby for adoption?

So, what are the rights of pregnant teens or any other expectant mother who is suffering from a mental illness? Should the wishes of these mothers to abort or to carry a child to term be honored or should a parent or guardian be able to determine what is best? As the mother of two young daughters, this book gave me a lot to think about.

Although elements of the story line are not probable and seemingly dictated by the author’s agenda (gynecologist ends up getting shot by religious fanatic who turns against Francesca after he/she believes that an abortion has taken place), it was an enjoyable book with interesting characters.

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