Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sue's Reviews: Braden Bell's "The Road Show"

["S" is for Sue's Summer Reading a la Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday.]


I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant when Braden Bell first asked me if I would review his book, The Road Show, on Sue's News, Views 'n Muse. Being rather underwhelmed by LDS fiction in general, I was worried (to be frank) that my "views" after reading it might not be positive enough to warrant a wholehearted recommendation. Any negative reaction on my part inevitably would have been awkward, because I enjoy Braden's blog and comments very much and wouldn't want to jeopardize our blossoming blog pal status.

Having said that, I'd already read and enjoyed a preview of the book, so I e-mailed him and expressed both my willingness and my concerns. His open, unassuming, and even humorous answer assuaged my fears, and I began to look forward to reading the pdf file that accompanied his response. Having promised myself a long rest today before embarking upon yet another trip this evening (Palm Desert for a mini-family reunion), I clicked on the attachment immediately and began to read.

Not one dull moment and a kleenex or two later, here I am––an extremely satisfied customer. My interest was fully engaged from start to finish, and the characters and their stories ring true: familiar, but not cliched. Somehow, these people manage to struggle mightily without turning into caricatures of themselves––to evoke empathy without becoming (or even verging upon) maudlin. This is no small feat, especially compared with LDS books of similar intent that expose themselves in the first chapter as ponderous, prosaic attempts to teach, preach, and reach the supposedly one-size-fits-all "mainstream Mormon." Braden's themes, deftly handled, emerge as universal rather than formulaic.

I recognize and/or identify with each person who walks the pages of The Road Show, for I have either known them or been them. The context into which they are placed is clear and well-executed; the format is intuitive and easy to follow. In short, the structure of this book is simple, but the feelings and principles are complex. And that's the beauty of it.

When the ending comes, and it comes sooner than later, there is plenty of open space left for the reader's emotions. Braden's light touch allowed me to find my own tears as the denouement unfolded, with Christ's life and the scriptures providing a perfect backdrop against which the players' pain unravels and healing begins.

By the time I finished the book, I felt healed as well. And hopeful. And considerably more inclined to seek small miracles in my own life.

"...By small and simple means are great things come to pass" (Alma 37:6).

The Road Show qualifies.

Thanks, Braden.

(Release date is June 8th.)

25 comments:

KC Mom said...

Is that the same Braden Bell from MMB??
That is so awesome!!
I'll check it out this summer when I'm in Utah.

Sue said...

Yep, it is one and the same! And he is one heck of a writer.

=)

laterg8r said...

sounds like a good book :D

Joy For Your Journey said...

YOu have caught my interest. Although I am like you (underwhelmed by Mormon literature) so I am usually very reluctant to read any of the books (anymore, I have read many before). But I think I will give this one a chance.

Braden said...

Thank you, Sue! I appreciate your generous words, and your generosity with your time before leaving on your next trip. Bon voyage, and thank you again. That really meant a lot to me.

Mumsy said...

Sounds like a great book to read over the summer.

Braden said...

P.S. Joy, do give it a try :)

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Sounds like a great book! I love book reviews. There are always so many fantastic books to choose from that it helps to have a review to give a little nudge in the right direction!

Lara said...

Great review, Sue! I definitely felt just the same way after reading this one. You put it into words very well.

Tina said...

Your review really made me want to read this book, even though I, like you, tend to avoid the LDS stuff. Well done!

Lindzena said...

Oh I need a new book to read. I'm usually reluctant at LDS fiction too, but this one is on my list. I'm glad you approve of it!

PS - Sugar war happened, if you want details I did a post on it. :)

Darlene said...

Wow Sue! If I ever wrote a book, I would certainly want you to review it. That having been said, it truly made me want to read Braden's book and I will get it when it comes out. I have also enjoyed his comments on your blog. Thanks for this.

Cheryl said...

What a stunning review. Not sure how this fits into the S category and I enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

Viki said...

This was a very good review. Lucky author.

Julie Schuler said...

I didn't even know Mormon Literature was a genre! Well, I learn something new every day.

karen said...

You made me want to read this book. I even checked out Braden's blog and his brothers' blog! Good writers all. My problem? I wish I could read it NOW. Patience is not my strong suit. If its as good as you say (LDS read not withstanding) I'll be very happy. I do love a good cry while reading.

Michelle said...

there's no doubt. LDS fiction is getting better and better.

Jess said...

Thanks for the new book suggestion- I'm out of books, again.

Jenny said...

Sue, this book intriques me. We live in Mesa, AZ. A heavily populated LDS area. I've tried reading some works before but didn't really enjoy the preaching aspect of the writing.

I will give this a try.

Thank you for the recommendation and for this extremely well written review. Would a person find this on Amazon?

Thanks for such an intriquing stop on my little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's Letter "S"!

A+

VKT said...

Nice S post....I am a tad bit late at visiting others posts. Yesterday was our last day of school. I enjoyed reading your review of your blogging friend's book. It sounds like a really good read. Thanks for sharing.

A 2 Z said...

Hi Sue,

I will have to give a try. I love inspiring books. Thanks for sharing.

Anne-Marie

Terra said...

I am SO adding this one to my list. Your review was wonderful. If you have been over to tales from the nightstand yet , you should link this up to the friday reviews!

Natalie said...

Beautiful review! I can't wait to read it.

Michelle said...

I can't wait to read this. I was already interested, but now I am just excited as anything.

I'm so glad you decided to review it!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

I'll be reviewing Braden's book on Saturday.
I loved your review! So well written!

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