Sunday, November 20, 2011

South of Superior - Review

Title:  South of Superior
Author:  Ellen Airgood
Source:  Library

Goodreads Summary:

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change. 

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she's learned in a lifetime. 

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy.

My thoughts:

I had high expectations for this book.  It takes place in Michigan, my home state, in the U.P..  It has eccentric characters, a run down hotel, and small town life. These are all things that for me are a great recipe for a book.  Unfortunately, this story was hard for me to get into and like.

I could not make myself care about any of the characters- actually, I take that back, I like Grayson, the little boy. And Arbutus. And the drunk guy with the beagle.  I did not like anyone else really.  The main character, Madeline, was too wrapped up in her own self-pity and anger and then alternately just plain boring most of the time; the love interest, or who I thought would be the love interest, Paul ended up falling for a druggie, neglectful mother who is way too young for him; and Gladys, well, she did have her moments where I liked her.  

The story kind of bumbled along, moving forward - I didn't think the story was really any good until I got to the last 1/3 of the book.  When Madeline started working on the hotel, moving into it, taking care of Grayson. I liked that then. The only negative in the end of the book was her relationship with Paul.  I didn't believe it as a reader, and it felt too neat, like the tying up of loose ends.

The sense of small town community was not there enough for me.  The depressed economy of Michigan, that was a great portrayal, especially in the upper peninsula, where things are even more difficult, from what I have read.  If Airgood did one good thing in this novel, it shows the perseverance of people when the chips are down, and how they take care of their neighbors, even if they don't necessarily like them.

This book was so-so to me, and I probably would not recommend it to many people.

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