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Smashwords book reviews by C Demore
- Starring in the Movie of My Life
on June 27, 2011
"She's simply been starring in her own life-movie, and it was in conflict with mine" (298).
Laurel Osterkamp's novel, Starring in the Movie of My Life tells the story of two seemingly different women who have one thing in common, Nate. At 35, Samantha is ten years Nate's senior but the newly weds' love seems fresh and easy. Samantha has about 15 years of baggage that she is still working through; but too many years with an immature, drug using and dealing boyfriend, who still lives in the same apartment building, will do that. Meanwhile, Melody is a high school senior who has given up on being popular and is investing her energy in snagging her Knight in Shinning Armour and teacher, Mr. Linden (Nate).
I greatly enjoyed this novel. I connected with Samantha's character immediately. Being a woman who is staring down 30 and arguably have accomplished little, while many of my peers have gone on ahead, I understood Samantha's feelings of being stuck, left behind, or wasting time. However, Melody took a little more time for me to understand. Her scheme to 'steal' Nate made me want to smack her. Melody's lack of empathy or compassion even made me hate her at times. I had to keep reminding myself that she was a product of an abusive mother and this helped explain her actions. Yet, even though Melody's background may explain her behaviour, it doesn't give her licence to be a terrible person. And that thought brought me to the realization of how much this book affected me. Melody was deep enough that I wanted to help her. She wasn't just some bratty, evil, manipulative teenager. She had a complexity to her that over-road any definitive desire to write her off.
The third person is this love triangle, Nate, was the most frustrating for me. At first I was really rooting for him, but it became difficult because as the story progressed I never knew what he was thinking. I knew how both women felt about him and what they thought about him and even what they thought he thought about them. But the reader never knows for sure what is going through his mind. Ultimately, I was disappointed in him and the course he takes in the story.
Starring in the Movie of My Life is about second chances at any age. It's also about discovering how to fulfil your needs without expecting an outside source, especially a relationship, to magically fix everything. I can understand why Nate's character was ultimately silent because in a way, his personality or motivation was not important. He was a symbol for Samantha and Melody, only meaning one thing, escape. They both thought he was their salvation from circumstances they wanted out of. It may be easier to let someone else save you but then you are without the tools to save yourself the next time around.
As a random aside I just wanted to mention how I chuckled at every description of Melody's part-time job at Subway. Having worked for several years at Subway I can say the description was spot on! The contempt for the abusive, overly entitled customer makes me think that author has had her own Sandwich Artist experience!
Starring in the Movie of My Life is a duel narrative that creates a multifaceted understanding of the characters and circumstances that rejects any concept of wholly good or wholly evil. The novel has a quick flow making this an intriguing read. The story is constantly moving from one present day issue or crisis to then uncovering a past, back-story element. I really enjoyed reading this novel and look forward to more of Laurel's work.
- Campaign Promises
on Oct. 31, 2011
We all have experienced defining moments in life. These are the moments that we attribute to changing direction, gaining a deeper understanding, but mostly profoundly shaping who we are as individuals. Laurel Osterkamp’s novella, Campaign Promises, is just this: five deeply compelling vignettes following Lucy Jones through her most significant moments over twenty years of her life.
Beginning in high school, Lucy finds it easiest to understand her current experiences through political campaign analogies and continues to make sense of events this way as the years role on. After reading (and loving) Osterkamp’s Starring in the Movie of My Life earlier this year I knew that she writes characters who struggle with the complexity of maturing and coming into ones own. Because of this, Lucy is easily relatable as she experiences the milestones of high school, weddings, funerals, baby showers, and swings full circle back to high school reunions. This trajectory illustrates Lucy’s growth as she is finally able to compare her adult self to her naive, idealistic youth.
I enjoyed the glimpse into Lucy’s life and her ability to explain where she was at emotionally and personally through a political lens. I was also impressed with Osterkamp’s subtle slight of hand in one chapter, which made me scrabble back a few pages to realize a character in question was not who I thought they were. Although some readers might feel tricked, I enjoyed the unexpected surprise. Readers should note that Campaign Promises is liberal leaning and specifically critical of Michele Bachmann…so, fair warning if you are a Bachmann fan.
Campaign Promises is a intelligent peek into one woman’s journey into adulthood as her naivety and idealism are nurtured into mature self-awareness. At 75 eBook pages, Campaign Promises is the perfect companion for short trips, lunch hours, or an early afternoon with a cup of tea that leaves you feeling accomplished and satisfied.
Originally posted on bitchlitblog.wordpress.com