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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.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fields of Home by Rachel Ann Nunes

Rachel Ann Nunes is one of the pioneers in LDS Fiction, she is a compelling storyteller with more than 25 published titles. I respect her talent and success. She’s a wonderful person and a driven professional that sets the standard for many of us as we reach for our goals and dreams. Still, most of us realize there can be only one Rachel—she’s awesome.

Recently, Rachel had begun to branch out from specifically LDS themes. She is adding a more generalized nature to her writing in order to expand her reading audience to a national level rather than the much smaller LDS niche market. Though these books may not specifically call out a religion specifically, there is still an undercurrent of the “good people trying to do the right thing” theme.

I recently read one of these titles, Fields of Home.

Fields of Home by Rachel Ann Nunes deals with the long-term consequences of having a child out of wedlock. The main character, Mercedes, has found a good life for herself after a hurtful and abusive childhood the culminated with her becoming pregnant and consequently abandoned by the father of the child. She marries another man who has been quietly watching out for her welfare for most of her formative years and they have a good life together.

Enter the old lover who has just learned of the pregnancy that resulted from their time together and the subsequent child who is now almost 12. Since he is unable to have children of his own, the birth father is now determined to assert his rights and claim a place in the child’s life, if not Mercedes’ life as well.

It’s amazing how much our past can still taint our future, even when we have repented and done the best we can to move forward. Rachel’s novel brings up some interesting questions and dilemmas regarding Mercedes’ problems, but it is still one of Rachel’s signature romance novels at heart. If you are looking for a good story with a hint of matters of the heart tossed in Fields of Home fits the bill. It’s also a story for the country girl in you.

However, while the story was griping, I don’t think Fields of Home is destined to become one of my favorite titles. I think it’s because of the characters themselves. I couldn’t relate to them. Their quirks, faults, thoughts and emotions felt, hmmm, maybe the word I’m looking for is extreme, in nature to me. The situations were realistic and plausible, but I never felt completely compelled by the characters. It was odd. I expected to be engaged, I wanted to see how the story would unfold, but I just kept getting pulled back out thinking, “Um, get real,” when the characters were emoting. Mercedes seemed too weak to me, still too insecure in who she was even though she time and time again said she was beyond her childhood issues. The father of the child was a highly intelligent man yet still felt that he could swoop in and take away the boy just on the shear fact that he was rich and accomplished and the mother lived on a farm.

I also had a hard time with all the flashbacks and back story that got thrown in. The reader spent as much time in the past as the present and I prefer to deal with one time frame only.

Then again, maybe I can chalk the whole experience up to being hormonal and too “extreme” myself. I was having a few off days when I picked up Fields of Home looking for a good escape. I didn’t find the escape I was looking for. I could get caught up in the story for a few minutes, but it was easily put down again as well. Sigh.

If you’ve read Fields of Home, please share your thoughts. I do think the story was worthwhile. It just didn’t’ seem to be my kind of story, if that makes sense.

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