The Outlaw Life

running, reading, blogging, loving

[06] Tumbleweeds

on December 7, 2012

Oh, Tumbleweeds. There you are, just out there, floating in the wind (cue wonky sad guitar music). Which is basically just my horrible metaphor for saying that this book took off STRONG, gathered a brambly bunch of steam, and then just rolled across the prairie kind of…meh.


Recently orphaned, eleven-year-old Cathy Benson feels she has been dropped into a cultural and intellectual wasteland when she is forced to move from her academically privileged life in California to the small town of Kersey in the Texas Panhandle where the sport of football reigns supreme. She is quickly taken under the unlikely wings of up-and-coming gridiron stars and classmates John Caldwell and Trey Don Hall, orphans like herself, with whom she forms a friendship and eventual love triangle that will determine the course of the rest of their lives. Taking the three friends through their growing up years until their high school graduations when several tragic events uproot and break them apart, the novel expands to follow their careers and futures until they reunite in Kersey at forty years of age.

In the pursuit of complete mostly honest revelation, I mostly picked up this book because the book jacket talked about a super-smart girl who moved to Texas to grow up around some potentially not so smart individuals. And also because the book jacket is really, REALLY pretty. So, maybe not the best reasons to read a book, but it works. And for the first, like, sixty pages, I wasn’t at all regretting whatever reasons had led me to it.

Cathy Benson is a rather remarkable heroine, not because she silently bears her burdens a la Hester Prynne, but because she gets mad and pissed and ends up stuck in a life she didn’t intend – but she gets herself out of it. She makes due, she gets by, she isn’t the eternal victor. But she’s strong. And she’s determined. And, at the end of the book, she’s relieved of the confusion of her life and is rewarded for her experiences. Her two male counterparts are nice but obvious foils for one another (John is sweet and nice and caring, while TD is all tortured and dark and feels less-than: think Cory v. Sean, which is basically how I pictured them in my mind the whole time), and the tensions between the three are developed rather realistically, which was nice pacing to see take place in a book that’s essentially just one long love-triangle.

Keeping up with Dark Places, this is one of those books that kept me guessing as to the next plot point for a good majority of the book. The first big “GAH!” moment takes place about 1/4 of the way through the book (ask my husband – I literally, like, slammed the book shut and said “ohmygodohmygodohmygod” for, like, five straight minutes. And yes, I know you can’t really ask him. Just take my word for it, mmmkay) and from there the whole book operates on this level of “OH CHARACTERS! IF YOU ONLY KNEW THE TRUTH!” Which, of course, they never do, which really just amped up the engaging reading tension. It literally kept me turning the pages as quickly as my eyes could physically read them. But then I was just over it. Tumbleweeds is one of those books that just keeps throwing big “GAH” moments at you until they basically lose their effect – kind of like getting shot with one bullet, which hurts like a bitch, versus a million bullets, which really you probably won’t even feel after the first few.

That’s basically how I felt the last few 100 pages of the book or so. And I was just done. The book wrapped up in  way that felt satisfactory, the characters got what I felt like were their “just rewards”, and there were certain mysteries that were solved in a way that made me go “hmmmm”, but seriously? By the time I closed the book, I was wishing that the final 1/4 of the book had been about 100 pages and 3 big twists shorter. Over it.

Rating: Okay
PS: That GIF doesn’t really make sense. I know that. I don’t care. It’s my favorite GIF of all time.


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