January 21, 2014

Book Review: Poughkeepsie

Welcome to my 1st book review of 2014! Things are rolling! Let’s dive right in…

My 1st review of the new year is Poughkeepsie, by Debra Anastasia. It’s one of those books I keep coming across on my Nook, iBooks, Goodreads… Since it’s been stalking me for a while, I thought I’d go ahead and read it.

I’ll be honest, I have mixed feelings. The basis of the book was a good one but then it tried to do entirely too much and I found it was just too long, at only 390 pages.

Livia (which is NOT short for Olivia, her name is just Livia) is a graduate student at a college in Manhattan and she falls for Blake–a homeless man she sees on the train platform every day. She’s working on an advanced degree in psychology, a good thing since Blake has some mental health challenges. Doesn’t that sound like a super interesting premise?

Blake, at the age of 25 has been on the streets since he aged out of the foster care system. He has 2 foster brothers–Cole, an aspiring Catholic priest, and Beckett, a high level thug. They look out for each other and have a strong bond and love for one another. They’re living very different lives, but yet they all intersect–primarily because of Livia and her sister Kyle–who is a free spirit, to say the least.

There is a lot of meat to this book and a lot that can be done with it. But I think it fails on some levels. For starters, Blake’s mental health issues are almost glossed over in some ways. I’m willing to suspend reality for the sake of a good story and I think I could’ve dealt with that part if the book didn’t have other short-comings, like the point of view. The story is not told from 1 or 2 POV, it’s told from about 7: Livia, Blake, Cole, Beckett, Kyle, Eve, and Chris. Speaking of Chris…

…He’s the primary villain in the story, and not a ‘good’ one. He’s incredibly transparent and childlike for someone who’s supposed to be a grown man. He’s Livia’s ex-boyfriend and he just can’t let go of her, not because he’s in love, but because he doesn’t want people to think he’s a loser because he lost his woman to a homeless man. Ummm…ok. His actions, mannerisms, and general character are so utterly ridiculous that he’s more annoying than anything else and should’ve essentially been eliminated–it would’ve allowed the author to focus on other areas.

Honestly, I hate to slam any book and this one has a lot of good points: the premise, the humor, the love stories, and the character’s back stories; it just went on too long and needed better editing; which I can usually overlook but in this case what could’ve been a great indy book, fell short. At the same time I can’t necessarily not recommend it. I was able to finish it, which is more than I can say about several books of late–just look at my Goodreads account. I cared about the characters. And it was just a little bit off the romance beaten path to be different.

The sequel, Return to Poughkeepsie was recently released. I am not itching to read it and that makes me sad because I really do care about the characters. But Poughkeepsie didn’t leave me anxious to find out what happens next. If anyone reads either or both books–or already has for that matter–please let me know what you think.

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