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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, December 5, 2008

Kate's Turn by Cheri J. Crane

Have you read the “Kate” books by Cheri J. Crane? I’d read some of her later works, but I hadn’t read a lot of these. Kate’s Turn is the first of these books. In Kate’s Turn the reader is introduced to 16 Kate who wants nothing to do with the LDS church her family belongs to. This is a heartbreaking experience for her family and her parents plan a family vacation which they hope will give them the time together to work things out and become closer. Kate, on the other hand, sees the whole adventure as a time to see exactly how miserable she can make her entire family. Yep. Sounds like a typical teenager to me.

I was interested to read this book, because I just so happen to have a 16 year old daughter with a mind of her own. Kate’s Turn was touted as a story for mother’s and daughter’s who were struggling to understand each other and teenagers who were struggling to understand the value of the church in their lives. It promised an “alma the younger turn around” type of conversion story and that’s what I got.

But, I have to say I never found myself really drawn into the story itself. The odd part is I can’t quite put my finger on what it was about the story that didn’t appeal to me. Some of the descriptions definitely date the book as first written for the 80’s and early 90’s, but I can overlook things like that. It wasn’t that it didn’t feel like current issues. It most definitely did. It wasn’t that the characters didn’t ring true in their thoughts and actions. They did. The only way I can describe it is to say that parts of the story felt too, well, calculated. Forced, maybe. All the elements were there and I could see that the things written felt accurate, but I didn’t feel them the way expected to personally. I could read a passage, then look back at it and say “yes, that’s probably what would happen” but still felt it kind of rub at me wrong. Weird.

While I appreciated the approach Ms. Crane takes with providing Kate an opportunity to figure things out I got the feeling the pioneer story was the one she really wanted to share rather than the modern conversion. Does that make sense? Maybe I was just having an “off” couple of days when I read Kate’s Turn, I’m not sure. Like I said, I could appreciate the story and what it brought to the table as far as learning about dealing with doubts and families trials. Ms. Crane deals with some very serious issues in appropriate ways. It was worth my time for those elements. It just didn’t become a book I couldn’t put down. I wanted to love it, but I only appreciated it.

I wouldn’t knock this one completely off your “to read” list if you haven’t read Cheri Crane’s series yet, there is information there to be gleaned, but it may not be the one you want to choose for escape purposes. It will be helpful if you are dealing with teenagers in your own home and I do intend to read a few more volumes. Sometimes writers take a while to truly find the voice that can speak to the reader in the most effective ways. I’m anxious to see not only where Ms. Crane takes Kate’s character next, but I’m also interested to see her mature as an author as well.

I’d be interested to hear from others who have read this series. What did you think? Am I way off base?

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