Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans (3 out of 5)
I got this one, I think, from winning a Goodreads contest over a year ago. I’m making strides in cleaning out the books. And reading them. Which is more than a month ago! This is a small little book, clocking in at 245 pages. It’s brought to us by the folks at Doubleday, and it’s a nice, quick read. The only problem, at least for me, was that I kept waiting for something super exciting to happen. It’s a simple enough story, but I was anticipating some excitement in the narrative, and it really wasn’t very exciting. It is a very well told story and a good one at that, I just don’t think it was exciting enough for what my thirsty brain is craving at the moment.
Ten year old Noel is evacuated from London before the Blitz. He ends up staying with Vera, a thirty something year old who’s broker than a joker and has a litany of people living with and depending on her. Her means of finding disposable income borders on the unethical and immoral. With a set-up like that, how can this book turn quiet so fast? Noel’s a smart cookie for a kid, but he’s not quite thinking clearly, grieving his godmother. Vera is always hustling, and with Noel, she finds the calm balance she needs to get the master scheme going to make some money. It’s a success; however, things are not as they seem, and as they work one end of town to the other, well, things get downright dangerous, especially for Noel. Will either of them get themselves out of this mess? Will Noel find a safe way to live amongst the characters of the town, or will he get swallowed up by the unscrupulous parties?
Here’s where my problem comes in. I saw a couple of things coming with the plot as it was laid out, and they happened. Strike #1 in my book. Then it dragged. The narrative, and Noel and Vera’s madcap moneymaking scheme as it’s set up, should not have dragged, but it started to. And it should have had some edge to it, but instead is quiet resolution and a little bang for the reader’s buck. Overall, as I said, the author really knows how to craft characters. You feel as if you’re friends with Noel and Vera, and therefore, you’re going to give a rat’s ass about what happens to them both. Things start to happen, but it kind of fell flat for me when it started playing out. That feels wrong for two such great characters. If you want a good, quick read with great character development, this is a good start. The way the plot plays out? I’m not such a fan.