HEAVEN OR HELL by J.C. Melek

HEAVEN OR HELL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman experiences tragedy and grows closer to Jesus Christ as the decades pass in Melek’s debut novel.

Wanda Mae Lindsey gives birth to her first child, Sandra Sue, at the age of 17 on Halloween night 1954, in the small city of Burkburnett, Texas. At the time, an awed Wanda observes that God’s love for her must be even more profound than her adoration of her daughter. She and her husband, Larry Leon Lindsey, have two more children, but the young family is shattered when a car accident kills Larry. As time flies and the kids grow up, Wanda meets and marries her second husband, the handsome but heavy-drinking Curtis Bailey. The couple has two more daughters, but when Wanda’s children attend church, she guiltily stays home with her spouse. Her children go on to start their own families and experience their own tragedies; Sandra Sue’s third child, for example, only lives a few hours. Drinking becomes a larger part of the family’s social life, but things change when Wanda’s son, Lewis, is almost paralyzed after driving drunk. Lewis attributes his healing to a miraculous visitation by an angel and becomes a sober Christian. As an elderly woman, years later, Wanda experiences a car wreck and another terrible setback, but she has a vision in the hospital that gives her reassurance. This book is very short, with decades of Wanda’s life compressed into fewer than 60 pages; as a result, the story suffers from a lack of detail, and the characters are only lightly sketched in. Wanda’s second husband, Curtis, for example, is only mentioned by name once. Some crucial scenes are given short shrift; Larry’s death, for instance, is summarized in less than a page, and statements such as “I knew that I would never really get over it, but I had to be strong for my kids” stand in for dialogue, setting, or description. Wanda’s plea that readers accept Christian salvation is clearly heartfelt. However, the lack of emotionally involving storytelling limits its potential impact.

An earnest but underdeveloped tale of finding faith.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5127-6732-2
Page count: 68pp
Publisher: Westbow Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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