Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunnyside Blues - Mary Carter

You know me - I love cover art. And I really like the cover of Mary Carter's new book Sunnyside Blues - just released from Kensington Books.

The story behind the two pairs of dangling feet?

Andes (Emily) has been running from her past in rural West Virginia. Her family were part of a religious sect that embraced snake handling. After 15 years of wandering she wants to find a home of her own. She meets Jay and his ten year old son Chase on the 4th of July and arranges to rent a houseboat from Jay. However a fire breaks out during the celebrations, one thing leads to another and Jay is jailed. Somehow Andes ends up looking after Chase. And it turns out to be much longer than a few days. There have been many fires in the marina area and while Jay has confessed, others think it's Chase's doing. When Jay's paternity is questioned, Andes and Chase set out to see if they can find Chase's biological father while Jay is still imprisoned.

The trail leads to Sunnyside, Queens. We slowly find out about Andes' past and what led her to this point in life. Interspersed are thoughts from the unnamed pyromaniac.

I found I had to suspend disbelief in the first part of Sunnyside Blues. I found it implausible that someone would accept responsibility for a child that they met the day before or that a parent would entrust their child to a virtual stranger. For me this would have worked better had she lived in the houseboat for at least a little bit and established some sort of prior relationship. This opening salvo seemed chaotic with too much happening at once. Although, this may reflect the state of Andes' mind.

I really didn't connect with Andes and Chase until they landed in Sunnyside. There, the relationship between the two had a chance to build over time and was believable. Things slowed down and were allowed to evolve at a natural pace. I also connected with supporting characters such as Hilda and her son.

Carter has created a busy plotline. I was interested in Andes' background and found the sections written on her family and the snakehandling to be very well done. I wanted to know who the pyromaniac was as well - a good twist there. Sometimes the coincidences in Sunnyside were a little too convenient. I found I was most interested in Andes' personal development and enjoyed her confronting her 'demons' to reclaim her life.

There is an excellent set of questions included for reading groups.

Mary Carter has crafted a story full of romance, intrigue and mystery. If you're looking for some escapist reading, you'll enjoy this one.

Want a chance to read it yourself? Enter the giveaway here!


Cackleberry Homestead said...

This sounds like a really good book. Thanks for the review - I definitely have to add this to my tbr pile.

Kaye said...

Wow, you write a wonderful review ! I'm glad you tell what works for you and what doesn't instead of giving away every detail of the story. I like reviews that hint at what happens, not retells the whole book leaving nothing for the reader to discover for themselves. A+

bermudaonion said...

I've seen movies like that - where someone will take charge of a kid they just met and I always find it hard to believe. The book does sound good, though.