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by Lark L Pogue Drew Carpenter/Lark Pogue
||Dog Ear Publishing
||November 16, 2009
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The death scene at the end is heart-breaking, but necessary. Survival is not always of the fittest.
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Missing Ingredients/No Time For Innocence
What could be worse than spending your last hours of existence in a mind full of regrets and guilt over your life exploits? Only one thing—being the victim of those deeds. Duane Coulter was dying and the children whose lives he had so badly damaged asked themselves why they felt the need to be present when he passed, perhaps hoping that the final breath would somehow ease their always present despair. While Duane lay dreaming his last memories, no one saw the tear that slid down the oxygen tube, and caught on his earlobe before landing undetected on his pillow. His children would never know that he finally understood. They would still have to deal with the sadness, shame, and mistakes they had already made as adults.
Adult children of a cruel and neglectful father relive and confess to each other much of the trauma and fear they experienced growing up and as surviving adults of a barely survived childhood. They all know they survived only because of a mother who did her best to protect them, even though she often paid a price for doing so.
The two main characters, Leal and Scott, share poignant stories, and realize through the telling that they experienced their childhood differently based on gender. There is violence, deceit, and desperation, in their journey to "older age" that makes the reader want more.
As she turned onto Main Street, the wind hit her squarely in the face. Her eyes stung, and she felt the grit on her teeth. The baby squirmed more, cried a little, and tried to cough. A half block more brought her to Rusty's, a pool hall and domino parlor. Rusty was quick to grant credit to his customers and was quoted as saying that he never lost money on it. "People may let their rent and 'lectrics go, but they don't never compromise their drinkin'." Rose pressed her face against the glass of the dirty window, but couldn't see inside. She would have to go inside to look for him. She needed help, even his.
18th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Author(s): DrewCarpenter, Lark Pogue
Title: Missing Ingredients
Category: Mainstream / Literary Fiction
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “poor” and 5 meaning “excellent,”:
Character development: 5
Production quality and cover design: 4
What did you like best about this book?
Although there is no information about either author receiving training or education as a writer, it’s evident that they learned how to write. Drew Carpenter and Lark Pogue deftly intertwine the past and present in this poignant story of a family dominated and abused by the father. The children of this man not only have scars from their childhood but even into middle-age they continue to bear open wounds. I’m particularly impressed with the dialogue: “So you think just because you work here, you’re better than me. Is that it? Because I don’t think you are any better than me. Do you think you’re better than my friend here? Do you think you’re better than my boys in the backseat? Because I really don’t like it when people think they’re better than me.”
How can the author improve this book?
The synopsis on the back cover is probably longer than it needs to be. I think the first paragraph, maybe together with the last, would effectively catch a potential reader’s interest. A benefit of the cut would be that the size oft he font could be increased and therefore easier to read. The information about the authors on the back cover is perhaps too extensive, and with all the discussion of personal, real-life experience, the reader may be left wondering why the authors chose the venue of fiction rather than nonfiction. Furthermore, the cover write-up seems to limit the audience to those who are interested in reading about dysfunctional families because there is no indication that someone merely interested in a well-told story will be engaged and there is no attempt to promote the authors’ abilities as writers. The writers are, indeed, skilled; I only wish the cover had perhaps provided an excerpt from the novel as illustration of those skills.
Moving, Inspiritional, and Real
A story depicting the difficult childhood of an intelligent brother and ambitious sister growing up in small town Texas, along with their other siblings, and the ways in which their lives as adults are filtered through that early lens. The times spent with the (not absent enough) father more often than not turn out to be horror shows. As young adults some choices they make clearly reflect the damage done to them, but as they approach the golden years we see how they have learned to persevere. A very good book, and it makes one think about how brave children can be, how resilient, and what makes people the way they are.
Well Balanced Book
This book found a way to blend the serious situation of a father's impending death with a good dose of humor. I particularly enjoyed the "magic eight ball" scene. The writers seamlessly tell the story of a family coming to grips with its past as well as its future. One would never guess that is a first book; it is written in a polished form, not the trite writing often found in a first novel. It was hard to put down.
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