Mostly Just Fluff: A Review of Karen Kingsbury’s Like Dandelion Dust
The author of this book makes sure that the readers all know it has been made into a Hollywood movie. Did you see it? The book claims it came out in August of 2010, but I sure didn’t see anything about it, even though the book cover highlights the fact that the movie version stars two nominees/winners of prestigious acting awards.
And that’s how we start the book Like Dandelion Dust, with pages of dedications, thank-yous, and self-congratulating acknowledgements. Now, I don’t see this as an over-arching pet peeve of mine, but I do find it a bit tacky to drag out the beginning of a book in this way. It requires the reader to page through extra material in order to even find the first page of the story. I wish she had included it in the back of the book, rather than assuming that I am one of her loyal readers who feel an emotional attachment to her career. If a book is worth it, I will read these types of things in the back once I’m done reading it. But to place them ahead of the story seems presumptuous.
Is the book worth the trouble of flipping the extra pages to find the beginning? Well, sure, I guess. How’s that for a half-hearted endorsement? On the one hand, I read it quickly since the story moved along and it had a very limited number of characters. In that sense, she made some smart, strong choices: characters with definite personalities, a terrible crisis they had to face, growing tension between the characters, and a pleasing denouement.
However, there was a cute kid at stake, which seems like a cheap shot to me – I mean, what heartless cynic would you have to be to not be moved by hardship experienced by a child? I know that Kingsbury wanted to connect with the emotions of her readers, but I couldn’t help but feel a tad bit manipulated, even as I felt bad for the poor kid and the situation he and his family faced.
It was clear that Karen Kingsbury wanted the characters to struggle with their relationships with one another and with God, which I’m all for, but the treatment she gives God is abbreviated and doesn’t go into much real detail. I thought the way she handled the child’s interest in God was the most accurate, an organic growth from a single seed of observation. The adults are more herky-jerky, falling into more stereotypical roles – even when these stereotypes are true to life they can still be written with more attention to the specific individual and why that person holds that viewpoint. Oh! I almost forgot one more detail: on page 223 there is a glaring mistake. Suddenly Bill’s wife and Molly’s sister is referred to as Brenda. Before and after this, she is called BETH. Big whoops. I figure that if I, the reader, can catch this, the people making their living by proofreading novels really should have seen it.
All in all, the book was light entertainment, much like a soap opera when there’s nothing else to watch on a summer afternoon. It has some action, intrigue, and stories, and if that’s what you’re looking for, this will do you fine.