Susan Gottfried's Reviews > Kiss the Sky

Kiss the Sky by Farai Chideya
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Nov 27, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: rock-fiction

Originally posted at http://rockread.westofmars.com

I don’t remember where I first heard of Farai Chideya’s Kiss the Sky. I do know I had really high hopes for this story, of a woman struggling with herself and her music career. Sophie is the sort of character you initially want to root for: she’s divorced from her music partner, but they’ve found a way to co-exist — maybe they are even comfortable with their status. She’s got a cool job, at least when the book opens, and she’s willing to work to regain what she had, musically.

It should have worked. Even the fact that Ms. Chideya is a Harvard grad who has a published a number of non-fiction books should have been enough to save this one.

I was shocked to see how many sentences started with a verb. Went to the club. Stepped outside for a smoke. (Now, I’m making these sentences up, so don’t go looking through the book for them) Yes, okay, maybe some of this is establishing Sophie’s voice, but frankly, it was too much. It became annoyingly repetitive, and it got in the way of the story.

This wasn’t as horrible a thing as I had first feared. Sophie is a mess: she’s bulimic, broke, and bull-headed. She’s so far in denial about her life that I couldn’t spend time with her. I had to put the book down.

It’s one thing to want to read an autobiography about someone who’s a bigger train wreck. We have a reason to want to like them — we have heard the music they make. There’s a connection there.

Thus, in fiction, it’s imperative for the reader to be able to relate to a character who has large amounts of baggage. We need to like them, care about them, root for them. They need to have some sort of drive, some sort of forward motion — either about them or their plot. If it’s going to be a plot-driven book, the character shouldn’t get in the way of that. Sadly, Sophie does.

I needed a reason to like Sophie. But I find myself intolerant of women characters, especially, who are broke but continue to spend money as if it’s no big deal. And then the sex scene with Leon… really, I had to ask if Sophie had any self-respect whatsoever.

If she doesn’t respect herself, why should I?

Kiss the Sky became a Did Not Finish.
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