Are you ready to Listen?
I don't usually burn through a book in a day. I'm too busy, and I'm ADD enough to get tired of reading all day, unless it is really good.
Listen is one of those books.
This is the latest book from Rene Gutteridge, who writes both comedic and suspenseful novels. After finishing her Occupational Hazards series (hopefully not forever!) and releasing a humerous book with a co-author last year, she has turned her attention back to suspense. This is a good thing.
Marlo seems like the perfect little town. Nothing bad happens, and it is a picturesque example of what America should be. Until private conversations start ending up on an anonymous website entitled Listen to Yourself. Now people are finding out what is really said behind their backs, and it isn't pretty.
As paranoid citizens start fighting each other, Damien Underwood and his wife Kay are dealing with the disconnect they feel from their teenage kids, Jenna and Hunter. As a newspaperman, Damien believes strongly in the power of words. He may be proved right, as life in Marlo unravels from the power of the tongue to hurt people. It may get very personal for the Underwoods before it is all over.
As I thought about this book, I realized comedy and suspense are not far apart. Both rely on setting the proper mood to be able to unleash a surprise. The difference is whether the surprise causes laughter and smiles, or goosebumps and shock. Rene has a wonderful gift in setting the mood and plot in such a way to unleash either effect. This book has humor interlaced with a twisting, suspenseful storyline that kept me hooked early on.
She sets sympathetic characters up throughout town, but they aren't always clearly marked at first. One character may be disliked at first, only to turn out to be one of the "good guys" later on. The trouble with the Underwoods seems believable and drives the story. You care about them even as you see trouble coming, and you want to see how they will make it.
However, the book is more than an entertaining read. The theme of the power of words is well-crafted, and it invites anyone to take a thoughtful look at their own use of language to hurt or heal. Some books try to beat you over the head with a message - this story takes you along for the ride but leaves you pondering it afterwards. It is not preachy, but it is a valuable part of the whole message.
No book is perfect, and to me the ending was so twisty-turvy that I got a little lost at the end. There were also some consequences that seemed a little too convenient as well. Still, it was like an exciting amusement park ride with a little bumpy landing at the last.
Rene Gutteridge is one of CBA's best authors, and I encourage any fan of suspense or clever writing to check out her work. You can also find out more at her website for the book, Listen to Yourself. Also, at her blog she's doing a video blog explaining the process of writing the book, for those who have already read it - interesting!
Do yourself a favor, and Listen...