THE QUALITY OF LIFE REPORT by Meghan Daum
Place of Purchase: library loan (and the first to check it, which has never happened before or since and is generally very, very cool!)
Reading Began: June 6, 2003
Completed Reading: June 11, 2003
Overall rating: Six out of ten
Recommendation to others: Enjoyable chicklit with quite a few crazy caricatured characters.
Why I chose to read this book: A review in Budget Living magazine, which generally doesn’t steer me wrong.
Further reading by this author: My Misspent Youth won writing awards, so it must be good too.
Comments: This was a good and FAST read that hit all of the high points of ChickLit style, but also dove a little deeper on some levels. At the time of this reading, I was truly searching for personal direction and something more. This woman’s journey was at the core of my heart, if only I’d had the guts to do it. Initially, this is what spoke to me when I read the first review of the book.
The story is very enjoyable – city girl moves to prairie – but toward the end I was questioning every decision that Lucinda made. That’s not always the best thing to ask a reader to do with your main character. I liked her, but I didn’t feel for her. By the end, I was just wishing she’d get a clue. Otherwise, I was right there with everything she was experiencing and with everything she was feeling. If not for the stereotypical characters in both city and prairie worlds, this would have been a great story of one woman’s attempt to change the course of her life.
Addendum – I read another reader’s comments about this book and found them speaking directly to me. And, on second thought, I think I may have been seeing only the surface: “I have one comment about other reviewers who thought that some of the characters were stereotyped. I think that was the author’s point. The story is being told from the perspective of Lucinda and the descriptions of the people she encounters and the events that occur fit into her expectations of the way they should be. When Lucinda arrives in Prairie City she only sees what she wants to see. The story allows her to evolve to the point where she finally begins to see things for what they really are. “
Favorite Characters: Lucinda Trout, the protagonist, is a decent character and someone I could relate to at first, but her boyfriend won me over. Mason was everything I find interesting in a man, right down to the physical attributes. Of course, he had so many problems that he shattered those qualities to bits, but for most of the story, he was my favorite character.
Memorable passages: Several passages really jumped out at me near the end of this book. Passages I could relate to and feelings I was experiencing at that time.
… I suddenly realized that quality of life was not about barn dances or bathing in the river or even sipping coffee in the prairie grass, but simply about being able to go to the mall…. That was where I had failed. I had thought too much about being or not being one of those people. And in the end, I was as much one of them as I’d always been. The Margin Widens (p. 293)
If I stayed here long enough I’d probably listen to The Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack until I was fluent in Spanish, or at least knew all the words to “Amor de Loca Juventud”, the first line of which, if I wasn’t mistaken, translated to “Lost are the dreams of my deluded youth.” Maybe the third tier was the place to be. Maybe there was an inherent morality there that compensated for its lack of glamour. The Margin Widens (p. 296)
And naïveté no longer worked as an excuse. Now it was just plain laziness and denial, which was far less charming than naïveté. That, right there, was what finally shook me awake. The horror of being judged was nothing compared to the fear of being dull, of being less than endearing, of being written off as a loser. Even after all that had happened, even after I’d fallen through more cracks than I’d ever even stepped over on the sidewalks of New York, I’d managed to hang on to my belief that I was not, despite obnoxiousness, without my charms. But now it was clear that there was nothing charming about me. I was as boring as the problems I was refusing to face. And though it shamed me to admit it, being uninteresting was the last straw. The Margin Widens (p. 302)