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Wednesday, October 28, 2015


4 stars out of 5

Please don't misunderstand: I enjoyed reading this very well-written book, and I thank the publisher (via NetGalley) for the opportunity to read it in exchange for a review. I just wish I'd been able to feel some kind of positive emotional connection to any of the characters.

The story begins as Zane Clearwater, a 26-year-old recovering alcoholic, is fired from his job at the Tulsa Zoo (Oklahoma). Upset, he goes off the wagon and blacks out, waking up to learn that his pretty much worthless alcoholic mother died when their trailer burned down. Luckily, neither he nor his 14-year-old step-sister Lettie, were in the trailer at the time. But he does remember being there that evening, and although he loves her, he and his mother certainly had serious issues. His blackout means he remembers nothing else; but in the back of his mind, he worries that he might have set that fire. As do the police, who Interview Zane and consider him a person of interest at the very least. 

Then, he gets an anonymous text suggesting that his mother's rather sketchy explanation of his late father - and other facts of her life before kids - were far less than honest. In fact, his real father not only may be alive, but a notorious local man with Cherokee blood, a very shady past and a nasty temper that resulted in his mother's running away and doing everything she could to hide the truth from her son and daughter.

As Zane tries to find out what really happened - and hopefully, in the process, find his father - he gets caught up with the attempts of Emmaline, his friend-with-occasional-benefits, to turn her talent for making pageant dresses for little girls into a starring role in a reality TV show (egad - the less said about that, the better). 

I can't say more about all that happens from there to the end of the book without revealing too much, but I will say that Zane's baby sister Lettie struck me as the only adult in the family. Mind you, nothing in my 74-year life so far has been close to the experiences of these folks, but on the other hand, I'm proud of my Tennessee "hillbilly" roots (and even the moonshiner we supposedly had in our family). Besides that, one of my grandfathers was said to have a Cherokee heritage; given all that, I expected to understand at least some of what the characters were going through. But, with Zane in particular, instead of sympathizing with his decisions and actions I ended up thinking that if he's going to be that stupid, he deserves what he gets. 

Thankfully, in the end he seems to have grown something of a backbone and all's as well as it possibly could be given the circumstances - but for me, at least, it just seemed too little, too late. That said, it isn't (or, IMHO, shouldn't be) necessary to fall in love with characters to realize the quality of a book. In fact, it held my attention throughout; the writing is solid (meaning few grammatical errors and typos, good transition and such) and the plot is both interesting and well thought out. Especially for those who enjoy the thrill of the chase and an up-close-and-personal look at life in a place where dreams and reality rarely meet, this one's a good choice.

Bloodlines by Lynn Lipinsky (Majestic Content Los Angeles, October 2015); 264 pp.

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