As much as I want to start this review on a positive note, I just can’t. And I feel bad because I don’t want to bash this kind of literature of which I am a serious fan. Having said that, I want to say that even though I do not entirely like this book, there are still some aspects which redeems it from getting the awful one-star rating.
Like Dandelion Dust is a story of a married couple, Jack and Molly Campbell, who seems to have the perfect life until they learned that they had to give up their adopted son, Joey, in favour of the child’s biological parents. The succeeding events would be a strong test on family relationships, faith, and love. How far will the Campbells go to keep their son?
Based on that premise, it seems that there should have been nothing for me not to like this book. In fact, the ethical and moral issues as well as the legal aspects surrounding the adoption process would have been enough to keep me interested. Add to that the spiritual background and theme of the book, I should have really loved this book. And I expected to like it too. But just after a few pages, I was turned off by the sheer mushiness of the story. Sure, a 4-year old boy should be cute and adorable, but I think the author with all due respect has overdone it with Joey. For several times, I have to check whether Joey is 4 years old or 8 years old because the language he uses definitely confuses me to a much older boy. Add to that the irritatingly dragging pace in the first part of the story. At least, the pace picks up again but only after more than halfway through.
One thing more. I should say that I am not turned off by the spiritual theme of the story. For me at least, any Christian literature as I have said earlier deserves a high rating from me. But not this one. I am disappointed with how the spiritual aspect appears to have been forced into the story. Of course, I get the point that adults can learn so much from kids. As in this case, Molly learns more about faith from her son Joey. But isn’t it a bit absurd for Joey to quickly believe in and actually pray to a God without his parents even teaching him about faith or religion in the first place?
It was the ending that actually did it for me. The police barging in and shouting “Freeze!” in order to bring the Campbells a notice that they are being called to the U.S. Embassy is, for me, the perfect example of an exaggeration.
After having spilled all my disappointments towards this book, let me enumerate what has kept me from giving it a lesser rating. First, Gus. Any story that has a lovable dog in it, I would love it. And second, I like the story of the Porters (the biological parents) more than the Campbells. The characters of Wendy and Rip are more believable and interesting, especially Rip’s struggle with violent anger fits and alcoholism. Wendy Porter portrays a very believable battered-woman syndrome, the kind of struggle faced by most of the battered wives in real life – to leave the husband or to stay.
The ending is very much expected, and I am glad Like Dandelion Dust ended that way. At least, the meeting between Wendy and Joey was poignant, except that I was already very disappointed much earlier in the story that I was not able to get very emotional about it at all. I am taking back what I said in my review of my first Kingsbury book that I have found another author to love. Sure, I’ll be picking up her other books, only when they are on super sale and not anytime soon.
10/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.