Kendra's Reviews > Eternal on the Water

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
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Jul 17, 2011

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Read in July, 2011

While this is not a book I might have picked up to read on my own, it was recommended by another mama friend who also does not have time to read, so we only share the cream of the crop with one another.

This is a love story with an expiration date...I hope that's not too much of a spoiler.

What I liked about this book: Mary, one of the main characters, is a biologist, specializing in crows, ravens and other birds from the family Corvidae. Natural history *and* mythology of these birds is interwoven into the story, and Mary herself is a memorable character because of her passion for these creatures in all of their forms and manifestations in the wilderness and in various cultures. I also enjoyed the tales of the Chungamunga girls, a camp/kayak experience for a very specific population of girls that brought me back to my days attending girl scout camp and going on 7-day backpacking and canoe trips in the wild north of Michigan. I felt homesick for our own Camp Linden as I read the sections of the book dedicated to the girls' adventures in the book. I liked Mary and cared for her and liked her family as well. I would like to have known the character before she became a Chungamunga girl and find out if she was always so perfect or if her personality resulted from her experiences and her predicament...

and that leads in to what I did not like about the book: while she was certainly a likeable and unique character, somehow she is too perfect, her interactions with everyone are too perfect, and the other characters (other than her brother, who is in one section of the book) are unidimensional and as a result, she lacks dimension. The foreshadowing in the beginning of the book and the entire narrative is akin to an over-produced Lifetime Network for Women movie, or a Jodi Picoult book - actually the writing was very similar to Jodi's - create an entirely likeable character, create a perfectly perfect narrative around the character's life with some perfectly perfect quirks, using some decent writing skill, except for one (literally) fatal flaw and use that flaw to create tension in the novel. Step two is to tell the story in a way that foreshadows the tension in the beginning and then tie it all up neatly in a bow at the end. This book is not in the same genre as Picoult, as it is mainly a romantic story. The writing is good but somehow not that memorable. Oh, and the love scenes made me feel all squirmy and after the first few (yes there are more than just a few, I just hopped over them). There are some memorable quotes from the book and some interchanges between the characters that were poignant but somehow not balanced.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a fast read for an airplane ride or a beach read, or to someone who likes Nicholas Sparks (I've never read his books, but this is what I think they must be like from various descriptions of "The Notebook" and from the chunks of the movie version of "Nights in Rodanthe" I've caught here and there while trying to find a movie to watch.) While it lacks dimension, I do believe that the author was trying to tell the story through his characters, and succeeded in this.
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