The Summer We Read Gatsby.
Yes, readers, I caved after much encouragement from my dearest Sonika and her magical tales of being able to breastfeed while reading, I took the plunge and bought a Kindle. But I made an error in my first downloaded book, The Summer We Read Gatsby. I went for the easy beach read with the thought that I would be able to better process the story even on little sleep.
What I did not count on was the book making my head hurt with the uneven quality of writing- I was quite surprised, and much less forgiving, once I learned it was not a first novel. This has led to me yelling at the book on the Kindle- like players on a TV screen-”Show, don’t tell!” Certainly don’t end a chapter with things like, “I was falling in love with (insert name)” when the guy hasn’t even appeared for a chapter and a half. Ugh. And definitely don’t end it with that sentence when six chapters earlier you used the last sentence, “I was falling in love with my half-sister” when the only emotion I’ve picked up on is annoyance. Double ugh.
The author’s main problem, aside from apparently not getting any honest feedback from an editor, is that she didn’t know what she wanted the book to be and tried to do too many things. This same problem shows up in movies like The Break-Up and other books, such as Her Fearful Symmetry. The Summer We Read Gatsby tries to be a light summer romance but also family reconnection book while also throwing in some barely developed mystery and literary tributes to Fitzgerald. Ultimately it fails because while beach reads are supposed to be light, an utter lack of substance means the story won’t hold together from chapter to chapter- much like a season of Glee- and the reader has no motivation to care about any of the characters.
As I’ve said, I’ve not yet finished the book, although I am 86% done. I am also 57% unsatisfied. The other 29% of me is just annoyed I can’t take this book to the nearest used bookstore and turn it in. Nope, I’m just out my $9.99.
Next time, I’ll choose more wisely. You win this round, e-reader!