Secrets Untold… Family secrets of sexual abuse and betrayal torment and destroy the innocence of a teenage girl. Darkness prevails as the animosity and violence erupts within her battered soul. While battling her own demons, can this single mother bury the pain of her own life to raise her children? Will she overcome recurring nightmares of rape and bloodshed? Will the fight to remain among the living, be stronger than her eternal desire to die? Walk through hell with, Elizabeth Trujillo, as she faces the most unspeakable scenarios of torment, and see if young, Elizabeth, can survive…
Does this sound like something Oprah Winfrey would put on her book endorsements list? Not to imply that Oprah’s long list of book recommendations are necessarily bad, but there’s definitely a trend in what she qualifies as “top notch” reading material.
In the last week of October I went to the Barnes and Noble here in Fort Collins and saw a book by a local author, Betsy Jiron, in the Mystery section. I love supporting new and upcoming novelists so I figured, why not? I grabbed the only copy of the book on shelf, made the purchase, and came back home to quickly begin reading. It was interesting because apparently the B&N in Fort Collins was only selling this as a special order per customer and wasn’t being displayed on the bookshelves…except for one. Lucky me, right?
To preface, when I read the first book in the Twilight series thought to myself, “Self, you’re going to have to try REALLY hard to find a novel that’s WORSE than this one.” The one good thing Twilight had going for it was Stephanie Meyer’s creative mind. While the execution of Twilight was atrocious, it was no doubt a creative concept.
I’m sorry to say, Sing For Me has proven itself to be worse than Twilight, making it the worst novel I’ve ever read. Why is Jiron in a worse position then Meyer? It’s because there’s nothing compelling in the book what-so-ever. It’s an inconsistent mesh of random incoherent jargon that would be better served in the hands of a competent editor.
It’s not an unfamiliar story – a girl grows up surrounded by sexually abusive and violent people, and her life is met with screwed up ins and outs. The pattern the story takes is annoyingly predictable with no redeemable qualities. The main character (named Elizabeth) meets a boy, and he’s just what she needs. But he turns out for the worse. After realizing she needed to get out of that relationship, she places herself in much more promising conditions. Then she meets another guy, and he was everything she needed…but then he turned out for the worse.
And that vicious cycle continues until the book is done.
One of the most perplexing pieces of this novel is found in one paragraph half way through. It describes the most ideal situation that would have made life for her and her son exceptionally better. However, it doesn’t matter how terrible her previous three relationships were, apparently good men aren’t “her type.”
I sympathize with anyone who has to go through such terrible things, but I’m not sure what goes through people’s heads when they reject something that will make their lives, and the lives of those most important to them, infinitely better. Whether or not this story is based on the author’s personal life, completely made up, or a combination of both, is unclear. However, it’s still bad writing. It makes me wonder who IS her type.
The book feels rushed. My mind began jumping hoops from one scenario to the next at 100 miles per hour. There was no clear connection of events and everything seemed to be one enormous hodge podge of violence and sexual abuse. By the book’s end, no one had learned anything and there was no hope to be found anywhere except in dismissed patches. (see image of excerpt above) Despite all of the bad relationships and memories, the story’s main character claims she also had an equal amount of good memories and relationships at the end. Any reader can come to this conclusion easily enough, but this hit me abruptly and without reason. It comes off as a protagonist simply wanting to tell her story for the sake of doing so. “Look at everything I had to go through! It sucks!” and that’s really all the novel does, and somehow Jiron squeezed what she learned from the trials and tribulations in that last chapter.
Why is this inconsistent? Because she never accepted the people who were GOOD to her. How can she appreciate the good people in her life if she continually shut them out? (tangent done)
Amongst all of the random incoherence of the story, the experience is worsened by the lack of editing. The improper use of punctuation and lack of spell checking is horrid. Whoever Jiron hired to assist in the editing process should be punched in the face. It’s filled with jarring grammatical inconsistencies and spelling errors. It gets so bad that half way through I put the book down and asked myself how this book could have ever been considered for publishing.
As a reader I can forgive a few misspellings from a published work here and there. Even with books by my favorite authors, things are overlooked. It happens! It never detracts from the overall enjoyment of the story, however. With Sing For Me it’s hard to get through one paragraph without finding something poorly written or unedited.
I don’t like saying bad things about books. I can usually find SOMETHING redeeming about any novel I’ve ever read. However, with only three chapters remaining, I found myself unable to finish the book. I couldn’t take it any longer. There are better stories I can feed my literary needs with. Sing for me has no idea what it’s trying to convey, pushes through the story was to quickly, and needs an editor badly! It’s fan fiction at its worst.
I need some Mary Doria Russell in my life. Onto The Sparrow!
1 out of 5 stars