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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, July 11, 2008

All's Fair by Julie Bellon

Ok, first my gripe. My puny little mind has a problem switching from one plot focus to another. Oh, it happens all the time—I do it myself. It’s a great way to weave two stories together as you move along. My complaint about using this technique in Julie Bellon’s new book All’s Fair, is that every time she made the shift I found myself cursing her, “Awe, man! It was just getting good! What’d she have to go and do that for?”

I loved All’s Fair. I hated being left on the cliff while she shifted the story between Kristen in the United States and her brother, Brandon, serving in Iraq; it’s just too cruel of a trick to play on someone who’s engrossed in the story. All I wanted to do was skip ahead to the next section of the same plot. My poor impatient self had a hard time waiting to find out what happened next.

All’s Fair is an excellent and timely story of love and adventure from a great storyteller. Darn her for being so good at turning my orderly world upside down. I think sometimes we become numb, or complacent, to the realities of what our men and women in the military face every day unless we directly know someone caught up in the problems overseas. Without preaching and without pushing one view point or another, Julie gives the reader more compassion and understanding for the hard choices and hard lives our soldiers face everyday. I have never in a million years entertained the prospect of missing ramen noodles (yuck!) but I can see it now.

That’s the next thing I would like to applaud Julie Bellon for. She says: “I actually wrote All's Fair in the summer of 2006. I was strolling through a Deseret Book one day and saw the little military pocket Book of Mormon on display, and the idea just popped into my head. What if an LDS person were captured and that's all they had to get them through the ordeal? I went home and started writing and the story just went from there. Of course, since I'd never been to Iraq, it took a great deal of research. But doing all of that research and talking to people who were there changed my perspective on a lot of things about the war, and really made me think about the sacrifices of the men and women who are serving there.”

Julie Bellon took those thoughts and feelings about the difficult situation of deployment and found a practical, very sweet way to help beyond her written words. From July 14th through July 19th, Julie and Seagull bookstores are working together to promote a unique service opportunity: Skittles for Soldiers. You’ll find out about the skittles part in All’s Fair, but in a nutshell the campaign is all about sending our love to deployed soldiers through the little everyday things that remind them of home. It’s about sending care packages filled with things you miss the most when your life is in chaos.

Julie will be appearing on Good Things Utah, Monday July 14th at 10am (MT) to talk about this charity drive. You can also read about it and find a copy of donation ideas listed on Julie’s web site. If you live near a Seagull book, please grab a couple of things off your shelf that you take for granted and drop it off at the bookstore to be sent to our soldiers who will appreciate it more than we ever could. Please, help Julie spread the word and make her resolve to help our soldiers any way she can be a successful project.

Now, for some fun. After reading about Kristen’s wedding dress difficulties and having a chuckle (my dress was big and poofy like that), I wanted to know if Julie was writing from experience. Here’s her response:

“How funny, I really didn't think of that, but my wedding dress was similar in that it had a billowy skirt and lots of buttons down the back. I got married on a hot August day, though, no rain or mud to be found!” :)

Want a compelling story filled with all the best elements of love, drama, and adventure, mixed with a gentle lesson in compassion? Pick up All’s Fair by Julie Bellon and while you’re already there, drop off a package of Skittles at Seagull Book for me. Trust me, after you read the book you’ll be glad you did.
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Shirley Bahlmann said...

What a great review! You made me want to read it!
Hey, Alison, may I suggest that you put your name somewhere at the top of your blog? (Of course I may suggest it, it's whether you choose to do it that will be the answer!)

Alison Palmer said...

Huh, I hadn't even noticed. I guess I just have a thing for being anonomous!