04 April 2007

Review - I'm Not Julia Roberts by Laura Ruby

Author Laura Ruby writes a witting account of the all-too-common “blended” families (which she reveals to be more jagged cliff than your favorite brew—house brew, get it? Blended house brew? Ohhhh). Focused mainly on stepmoms and their attempts to get a family going and surviving with all the extra childhood instability problems, the book is anecdote-funny but also a sad commentary on the state of the family. Ruby provides a “family tree” in the beginning, and thank goodness she did because I constantly flipped to that page to keep all the convoluted relationships straight. It's full of broken branches, new limbs, and kiddo twigs (oh what a tangled web we weave). You’ve got bitter adolescents, “psycho” exes, and optimistic new relationships, and somehow, you’ve got new families that work. For the most part. And the book is funny. That Laura Ruby has a great sense of humor.
Personal Writing Lesson: Ruby skips hither and thither (I just love those words) with tenses and persons (between 3rd and 1st, sometimes using both with the same character’s voice). At first, I tried to figure out the timeline. Okay, the last scene must have happened in the past because it was in past tense but this scene is in present, so it must be happening now. Not so much. The scenes were contemporaneous. And why is Beatrix’s voice sometimes in 1st person and sometimes in 3rd? Perhaps her fragmentary writing is meant to contribute to the fragmentary life. Well done, then, I say. Personally, I learned that you have the voice of the character and the voice of the book as a whole (as well as the even larger concentric circle, the voice of the author). The character voices need to be distinct, but the book needs to have a consistent voice throughout that ties it all together.
Class dismissed.


willowtree said...

Hey, guess what ? I just nominated you for an award.

Elaina M. Avalos said...

Been meaning to comment on this review. Stepmom is actually my favorite movie oddly enough. Thanks for the review. I'll have to pick it up soon!