Lately in my life I have been learning about boundaries. How to set healthy ones because I am bad at it. Who knew I could read a work of fiction to help me figure out this concept of boundaries? I guess I've always known that fiction crosses over, but it's always completely awe- inspiring when a work of fiction can help me with decisions I must make in my own life.
I thought that this book was just going to be another action thriller about a couple of FBI agents, but it was so much more than that. It was a perfect example of what good boundaries can do for a person who desperately needs them. It was also a great lesson that boundaries alone are not enough; an adult, just like a child, has to have unconditional love to flourish.
The three main characters, Jimmy, Paul, and Emily were all AWESOME in their own way. I loved each of them and could relate to each of them, even though they were all completely different. Jimmy was a bright and amazing guy who was in a troubled time of life. He was floundering for good reason. I am against writing spoilers, but if what happened to him, happened to me, I don't know if I could get out of bed ever again. Paul was the perfectionist in me. He aimed to please and was a good rule keeper, but he was deep down completely insecure. Emily was every woman that we want to have depicted in a novel, smart, feminine, kind, gutsy, and more than anything, confident.
These three characters made a dynamic tale of love and friendship. My hat goes off to the author, Steve Westover, for his wonderful character development. Although the plot in the story was a bit predictable, I still really enjoyed the quick read.
Back to the boundaries. Jimmy was able to completely change his life around and tap into his under-appreciated strengths for two reasons: Paul's healthy boundaries and un-apologetic expectations combined with Emily's infinite and unconditional love.
This book was so much more than a private investigator story of mystery and action, it was a perfect love story. A love triangle that left everyone happy. Including this reader.
My hat is off to Steve Westover for his successful first novel.
For inquiring minds or the FTC - I was given, for free, a copy of this book to review. But, to the best of my ability, I did not let this fact effect my honest evaluation and review. Even when my copy had the author's autograph. :)
Go here to see what the author of Defensive Tactics thought of my review. I loved what he had to say.
Abigail Gold is my daughter. And as I know none of you well, I want to preface this e-mail with the fact that I am not one of "those parents". I will absolutely do everything in my power to support you all in your goals as I will for my child. I know we all have her best interest at heart. Abigail has always been a straight A student and has never had any problems completing assigned homework. I am worried that her Honors classes may be too much for her to handle at such a young age. If we were to take her out of honors, would there be a considerable difference in the amount of homework?
My husband and I are both very dedicated to helping Abigail succeed with her education. We are very concerned because Abigail has had an abundance of homework. We are worried on two accounts. One, is all this homework really necessary? And two, does our child need an A.D.D. assessment? She is having a terrible time concentrating on her homework. I am not sure if it can really be considered Attention Deficit Disorder or if she is just sick and tired of studying all day every day. She understands the material and so I hate to take her out of Honors, but I am worried about her emotional well-being. She doesn't have a minute to relax anymore...not a minute...until Friday night. This past weekend, we did homework for eight hours on Sunday, where we repeatedly corral her back to her desk to focus. I have thought that our 3 other children were a lot of the distraction issues for Abigail, but on Sunday our other children were at their Grandma's.
Tonight we did math for 2 hours, social studies for a 1/2 hour, and language arts for 15 minutes. This doesn't even touch the 1/2 hour reading she is supposed to do for her Reading class. She also has 4 ongoing larger projects that she has only barely started. Today, she came home from school, did homework until she ran out the door to her soccer game and then came home and ate dinner while working on the rest of her homework until 10 p.m. This has been typical since school has started. Even on the nights she doesn't have soccer or church, she is still doing homework from the time she comes in the door until she goes to bed.
I understand that Knox County has raised the bar, but is homework the answer for these kids? As adults, we don't want to work all day every day, and I especially don't think it's fair to expect that of an 11 year old child. I don't think it's healthy. I also don't know if this is just an Honors thing, but if it is, is it really fair to approach honors by giving the excelled students more work than they can handle healthfully? Our whole family has been negatively effected by the amount of attention is required for Abigail's homework.
Trust me, I am all for teaching my child good work habits. (Let's not even talk about the chores she never has time for anymore) Abigail has high goals for college and talks of Ivy League schools, and I understand that she needs to learn good study habits, especially if this is her future goal, but I am sending this e-mail with grave concern for my daughter. I hope you can all shed some light for me. I know all the other parents have said that their kids have a ton of homework too, but I think we may need some medical attention for Abigail. I have been told that the schools conduct assessments when a parent expresses concern, and I wonder if this is true? I know you all are much more experienced with middle school and with a variety of students and I am novice with my oldest child just starting 6th, and so I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.
Love is everything. From the love between the two romance seeking main characters. To the man who couldn't love a woman and found his escape in a Shaker colony. The love of a father, a brother, and a daughter. The love of strangers for soldiers on both sides of the Civil War was powerful enough to keep the meals coming, at the risk of starving a whole colony through the winter.
I loved the character Charlotte. When she ran away from her Southern Plantation to a Shaker colony, I thought she was a coward, but when she used the opportunity to better understand herself, my affections returned. Adam Wade was every girl's dream: good-looking, rugged, and a very talented artist. The author's descriptions of his art made the reader feel like she was looking right at each masterpiece. Who says a picture speaks more than the written word? You would have never guessed this when reading this book. Each fictional sketch took on a life of its own for me, just as each character did.
Learning about the Shakers' beliefs was secondary to a look into the state of the nation during the Civil War. Did those Confederate soldiers really chicken out like that in that first battle? How did that get past me all these years?
The Shakers ability to love was inspiring, as was Charlotte's love and devotion to a helpless little boy...even when his own mother was a horrendous example of motherhood. Perhaps the greatest love story of all was the freeing of beloved slaves. I get teary just thinking of the fictional characters as their faces glowed with liberty for the first time in their lives.
I can't wait to read some more of Gabhart's books.