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Chasing Happy Paperback – August 26, 2015
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The loss of star value would come from the rather thin-shelled and flat-sided characterization of lifestyles and religions unfamilliar to the author. I almost stopped reading when the first gay male introduced said he did a drag act. That does more than border on stereotyping. It flat out screams it. And, as for the LDS religion, you really need to delve past some general Mormon vocabulary and a few culture caplets in order to mold an LDS character. Shunning the rebellious daughter? Uh.....probably not. Cold shoulder, maybe and limited invitatoins, but no shunning. That being said, there do exist shallow Mormons who do not fully understand what their religion is all about, and live their religion as if they are following a script. I can see where these attitudes and behaviors set up blockades between members and a pure testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Still, Samma would have been taught somewhere in church or seminary to know that her Heavenly Father was a loving father, who she could turn to for answers----and not someone dictating to her who to marry and how to improve social status. The Papa thing was a bit much. And, no---there are NOT different rules for engaged couples. A temple marriage requires a chaste relationship. The 2 missionary brothers were like cardboard cutouts----robot missionaries who happened to both be sent to the same place. Who were they? Maybe we will find out in the sequel, but for now they have no personality or impact on the family.(Next time you write about an LDS family, please sit down with a few LDS people!)
I loved the emotional roller coaster the book took me on. Twists and turns in the plot were welcomed---The four sisters part was a heart-warming dose of down-to-earthedness. Good stuff. Really.
Someone asked if the book needed a sequel. Answer: Of course! "Four Sisters" Let me give Ann a head start:
1. We know that Ash struggles with same-sex attraction, but wants to live a happy family life with Samma. All goes well until tragedy strikes his high school band family. The staff and students become extraordinarily close. The new pit director comes in early each morning, and has the greatest dimples when he smiles. Ash finds his heart skipping a beat. Would be easier if Samma hadn't left for 3 weeks to take a turn helping her mother recover from surgery.
2. Blessing goes on her mission to Brazil, and discovers that the church is where her heart is. Storm is still there when she comes back, and they start to date. Blessing is discouraged by his lukewarm attitude toward church, and when she finds porn on his computer, it's the end. She leaves for college out of state to study interior design. She vows never to date again in her life....well maybe not for a year....ok...6 months, no less! We-e-e-e-llll..next week might be ok. Will she meet the man of her dreams there? Or will Storm come around?
3. Samma attends church with Ash, but the letters she got from Blessing's mission remind her that she is missing the influence of the Book of Mormon in her life. Samma and Ash agree to attend both churches, but this causes some difficulty in their scheduling and personal scripture study. She attends a Bible study group with him in which LDS teachings are attacked, and is told she is not a Christian if she continues to read the Book of Mormon. How will they get past this one?
4. Chance stops drinking. She becomes a counselor for abused women, and volunteers in the community.
5. Those robot missionaries come back from Samoa, and have a profound influence on...................well, somebody. I haven't figured out who yet.
6. Macy has her own battle with depression. Support from her sisters gets her to the right doctors and therapists, and life is good again.
I appreciate her skill in writing sexual tension without going overboard—real people, without the graphic portrayal.
I did, however, finish the book feeling that the story could have dug deeper. Perhaps because it took several chapters into the book to find out what Ash’s true struggle was.
Nevertheless, I think this book is good reading and a good effort to open dialogue. No matter where the reader falls on the spectrum of opinions concerning homosexuality and other alternative lifestyles, I believe anyone who honestly looks at the current situation in the U.S. would have to agree that recent legal battles and the way these lifestyles are jammed into the forefront of news are going to cause considerable confusion and struggle not only for teens and young adults, but people all over the age spectrum. It is going to hurt families. It is going to derail lives---and that is not any different than the devastating impact of skyrocketing divorce rates on broken families. Opinions of the subject aside, damage is done in real people’s lives.
Chasing Happy is a way for readers to come out of their sterile opinions on either side of the argument and view the issue of homosexuality/bisexuality in real time; perhaps examine what we’d do if we were in that same situation. And any book that makes us more thoughtful of other people is a book well worth reading.
What I admire about this author in general is that she doesn’t shy away from potential controversy. This is Christian fiction at its finest. It’s edgy, gritty, and believable with absolutely no sugar coating, yet sensitive, romantic, and deeply moving. I love this book and I plan to read it again. Don’t dismiss it because of the ‘hot button’ topic. It just may be the best thing I’ve read this year.
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