Sunday, December 14, 2008

Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (3/5 stars)

I picked this book up for $1 at a used book store. It looked and sounded interesting. It was an interesting, if somewhat depressing read.

This story follows Jocelyn, who is in high school, as she struggles to deal with her boyfriend Benny's off and on again attitude toward their relationship. Benny's mom is really sick and a new priest that comes into town convinces Benny to make a deal with god. If Benny gives up all the physical aspects of the relationship with Jocelyn then maybe God will help Benny's mom get better.

Jocelyn is an outcast because her mom is divorced and living by herself, and she has very low self-esteem. Jocelyn struggles with the churches rejection of her and her mother, while dealing with the small town pressure to fit in. Now she has Benny constantly making her feel guilty. To add to the mess of emotions Jocelyn still has feelings for her neighbor Gabe, Gabe is in general pretty mean to Jocelyn. Still Gabe and Jocelyn have a history that she can't let go. The chapters alternate between Jocelyn at present (in high school) and scenes from Joceyln's childhood.

All in all this was a sad story. It was a story about religious fanaticism in small towns and how sometimes it's not about being good to people but about avoiding the rage of God. It's about a small town's prejudice against people like Jocelyn's mom and how that reflects in Jocelyn's life. Jocelyn's mom also blames Jocelyn for her father leaving. As such, it is about how someone who has no self-esteem or respect for herself puts up with people abusing and walking all over her.

There is a lot of eluded-to and flat-out abuse in this book. I think the book ends as happily as it could given what it is. It is fairly well-written. I suppose it gives incite into how bad things can get in a small-town setting and how much effect one person has on the state of things in a small town if he has the power of God behind him. The plot line was not especially engaging and the ending was not surprising.

Overall all this book did for me was make me happy that I don't live in the 1970's, happy my parents are not divorced, and happy that I don't live in a small town. It also made me very sad for anyone who has Jocelyn's type of life. Definitely not a book to read to raise your mood. A good read though if you want some incite into small-town religious fanatic lifestyles.

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