What if everything you thought you knew about your parents and your family was a lie? Would your world come crashing down or would you take it in stride?
This is essentially an episode of Maury. If you love the familial drama, expletives, and colorful characters in that show, you might enjoy this book.
Blindblown by Winsome Bentley is a brave first attempt at a novel by Winsome Bentley. It features some good drama and even suspense at times. The writing comes across as genuine and personal. It does feel like the author is relating this story directly to you, which could be considered a plus. Usually, when you're presented information in a book like this, it's from a semi-omniscient narrator who has some degree of distance from the reader. Strangely, this book sounds like it's supposed to be written as a memoir and from first-person, however, it is written in third-person instead.
This book really suffers and struggles in a few areas. Perhaps we can be constructive and point some of them out. The writing quality is simply not at the level it needs to be at to beat out the competition in the genre. For better or for worse, the writing is very rough and lacks refinement and eloquence. This book would have benefited from having competent, quality beta readers, editors, and/or proofreaders.
Any competent proofreader would've seen a line like “was this was really even worth it?” and see that it was not a good line. In fact, it's not even grammatically correct. If you don't see the problem with it, there are two uses of the word “was” including one clearly unnecessary one. You also get redundant lines like “any more damage to her anymore” and sudden tense changes like “Soule teared up as she reminisces” (past tense into a present tense). Again, any competent proofreader should've/could've/would've caught these problems. The fact of the matter is, they're problems.
We heard the author is planning to release a book immediately at the start of the next year. Please don't rush these things. Books take time. You should go through multiple drafts and revisions. Don't rush things out because you reached your word-count/page goal. It feels like the author reached 70 pages, clapped her hands together, and said, “We all good now.” No. Send your drafts around and get honest feedback from people. Because any genuine, competent proofreader would've pointed out that this seems unfinished and unrefined.
In all frankness, this reads like it was typed on smartphone. The paragraphs actually look and read like text messages. There's a genuineness and even a coolness to that, yes, and it could work. It reminds us of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, another book that is written like a series of diary entries by a twelve to fourteen-year-old. However, the difference is, the main character in Speak was a high school freshman about 14-years-old. So, her lack of proper punctuation, indentations along with the excessive use of ellipses, all-caps, and exclamation marks were all understandable. In fact, they were realistic. That's how teenagers text and write. But Soule in this novel is clearly an adult. She's a grown up. However, she thinks/talks/writes like an angry 14-year-old.
If you are writing a professional work of literature, please avoid ALL-CAPS along with excessive exclamation points and ellipses (…) whenever possible. They just detract from the quality of your writing and distract from your storytelling.
This book is filled to the brim with abbreviations like Smdh, WTF, and Lol. To be blunt and honest, this is really amateurish. It's so unprofessional and an eye-sore. When was the last time someone in real life walked up to you and said, “Smdh” or “Lol” instead of shaking their head in disgust or laughing? Those are things a teenager writes in a journal, not things that belong in a professional work of literature intended to win a writing contest. However, to play devil's advocate, it's not like you need to write in perfect English all the time. What even is perfect English? There are so many dialects and accents that still qualify as English. Some might be considered improper or informal. Look at Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston. The main character in that novel speaks like a Black woman would talk in that part of the country in that particular time (in the 1930s)—a very distinct Southern slang. The thing is, Smdh, WTF, and Lol are not dialects or accents in the same way Pidgin English or Creole English are. They're just plain improper for this medium.
In the author's defense, she did come to the United States from Jamaica and is still learning to speak and write English. For her to have written and completed a work of literature at all under those conditions is a enormous accomplishment.
Despite being written in third-person, the author will still cut away and give the reader their feeling or opinion on things, which can be both ingratiating and jarring. This is the kind of book that'll tell you that the narrator thought the character thinks the situation is bull$#@* or that they don't give a $%*@#. See what we mean? It's almost like the author is playing tug-o-war with the reader.
Do you want us to be in your shoes or to be in the character's shoes? Do you want us to be feeling the feelings we're naturally, organically feeling or are you going to dictate what we should be thinking and feeling? Never tell your reader what to think, feel, or remember. That's like solving a 100 piece puzzle for someone, it ruins the fun.
The author will even say things like “because remember...” That doesn't show a great deal of trust for the reader. The reader should remember that an event happened and should pick up on ironies and coincidences, especially with a text this short and simple.
Strangely, this book sounds like one that's supposed to be written like a pseudo-memoir and from first-person, however, it is written in third-person. It almost feels like the writer wanted to write a memoir but was uncomfortable doing so from first-person, so they used a self-insert protagonist instead.
Another thing about this book that keeps it from being top-rated is that it's really sparse in content and has a very abrupt ending that doesn't feel like much of an ending. This book had something really going for it. It finally had some tension and momentum with bigger reveals incoming, then it ended.
Yes, the author intends to make this into a series, but they'll really need all the help they can get.
A final thing we'll say is that a lot of things about the marketing of this book don't seem to fit together well. The author brand name appears to be Win$some (Winsome with a dollar sign) and the book's dollar-green cover with dollar-green text looks like a non-fiction business book about a woman brainstorming ideas to make money at home or online. Seriously! We thought this book was a book about starting a small business and being a female entrepreneur. We didn't expect it to be a book about familial drama. That's why it's so important to pay attention to the other books in your genre and to make sure your book is presented in a way that fits your target audience, because based on the author name and cover, we thought this was going to be something entirely different.
With all that said, this book does have some redeeming qualities. Again, the story itself has incredible potential. There's a lot of drama and tension to be found. There were even a few pleasant/unpleasant surprises. If the author can figure out the craft of writing in this new language, they could really crack the code.
You can find this book on Amazon.