29 September 2014

Hello, Agnieszka! by E. Journey

 A son’s attempted suicide shocks the Halverson family and uncovers lifelong secrets of love, rivalry, and betrayal in the mother’s early life. Agnieszka Halverson must now bare her soul to her children, and tell them of shattered dreams and love/hate relationships with her mother and a grandaunt. Her passion for the piano saves her from the ravages of her childhood.

A consuming first love, at the root of the secret, opens up her world, but ends in a way she never expected—a tragic fact she couldn’t help. The experience gives her strength to move on and grab a second chance at happiness. But does she ever forget that compelling first love?

Hello, Agnieszka! is a sequel/prequel hybrid to Hello, My Love! and it explores complex relationships between mothers and daughters and touches on sociocultural issues about fitting into society. Together, the two novels comprise the Between Two Worlds Series about four women, two different but adjacent eras, and lives that are parallel, inevitably intersecting, but personal.

I must admit I have not read the first book in this series so I went in not knowing the history of the characters.  With that being said I want to stress that I still walked away emotionally touched and renewed by reading the story of the moment a daughter sees her mother as an individual with her own hopes and dreams, sorrows and heart breaks.  That moment of clarity when the mother becomes a “friend” and equal not the caregiver who is above the rest. 
Elise goes through life being a career woman, mother, wife, sister and daughter, focusing on her own world and the work she is doing as Public Defender.  Losing herself to the job of being a protector and nurturer it took a tragic shocking event involving her brother Peter for her to shift her focus on the family and not the people she defended in the courts.  What she wasn’t even aware of was in this new direction of focus she is going to see her mother as a woman for the first time and secrets are going to come out that will shake her world. 
Agnieszka had a life of joy, love and heart break as a young woman.  She made choices in life to not only provide for and protect herself but to give her children the life she thought they deserved.  Now faced with the fact that one of her children is so depressed that he was willing to end his life, she takes a step back and begins talking to Elise.  The curtains that she hid her early years behind was torn down and she spilled her heart to her daughter in raw emotions, describing the choices she was forced to make, mistakes she is accepting and fear at how this is affecting her current family. 
I loved watching the moment that Elise was not only getting to know her mother and see the things that had to happen in the past for her to be here today, but she was also absorbing her role in the life of her children and the choices she is making now will one day affect her children later on.  It was as if Elise became of aware of her role life.  The author drew us a picture of how our parent’s history create our present and our present creates the future of our children, life is a circle and no woman is an island. 
While I enjoyed this touching story and felt that I walked away a stronger mother and woman, I did have a hard time with the writing style.  As a beta reader I am constantly telling my authors that I need them to paint me a picture of the scene they are seeing in their heads as they write.  While I enjoy a conversation between characters I want to see body language because let’s be honest, in real life, body language speaks louder than words in most situations.  I want to have that movie going in my head where I feel I am sitting in the room with the characters and I didn’t feel that here.  This story felt more like a transcript of a story that I was reading and I missed the visual images that I value in a book.  Beyond that I have no other dislikes regarding this book.  It would be a book I would highly recommend to every mother and daughter out there for the understanding that no matter what role we have in life, we must never forget that everyone has dreams and heartaches that at some point fuel our actions and the choices we make in life.   
A Realist’s Take on Romance Novels
Broad shoulders on a strong heavenly handsome guy, heaving bosoms on a bewitchingly beautiful gal. Smoldering eyes, love reigned in, and passions unleashed just at the right time, after the protagonists have fought or butted heads, of course. Romance readers expect all these.

Regardless of what you think about formulas, this scenario sells. Some formulas just work well—for a certain group, at least—the niche market, in the lingo of the  internet savvy and publicity people.

But we can't all write like that.

I'm a realist in my writing, as well as my art. I don't have as much imagination as many other writers—a handicap (or strength) that comes partly from my training and experience as a mental health program researcher/evaluator. I'm also a flâneuse, a female observer-wanderer. I watch, and observe. And listen. That's where the meat of my writing comes from.

I tend not to rely on broad shoulders and heaving bosoms. Instead, I show growth in protagonists by exploring their thoughts and emotions. My novels deal with insecurities and disappointments, love/hate relationships with parents, characters who seem to behave out-of-character, and even life events not typically included in romantic fiction.

 My love stories do have happy epilogues, and I've tried to work intriguing plotlines into them.
I write about other things, too—essays on art, travel, food, or just “being.” Such musings find their way in my very first blog: http://eveonalimb.com


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