Free spirit Angel Two Sparrows—artist and musician extraordinaire—is having trouble making ends meet. On the verge of desperation, she inherits her crazy Aunt Lilly’s bookmobile and half-wolf named No Barks, and dreams up yet another life plan. Painting her business card on the side of the van, Angel and her trusty companion set off on a pilgrimage across America hoping to jump-start her new profession: Native American Spiritual Consultant.
Traveling in the other direction, Ted Day and his trusty Irish Terrier-mix Argo are on a much needed vacation (and in need of spiritual nourishment). When he leaves Kansas, Ted can’t image how far from his sleepy law office that old silver and black Winnebago 32RQ Chieftain will take him.
Two lives (four if you count the canines) collide (literally). Once the dust settles, Ted and Angel find themselves enamored. Sensing that something bigger and more profound has been set in motion, the couple embarks on a wild road trip, detouring into some rarely traveled corridors of the human soul. Very soon, it becomes clear that nothing will ever be the same for these travelers, their dogs, and, heck, the world at large, too.
Sigh. I don’t really even know where to start with this one. I hate writing negative reviews because it makes me feel mean. So, Mr. Kincaid, if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re a wonderful person. I’m sorry I hated your book. Since I’ve never written a book, I have no idea how difficult it is. I mean, I’m a blogger, which basically means I get to share my opinion and have people read it. All that to say, I have the utmost respect for your endeavor. (I’m also really glad this isn’t the first book you’ve ever written. If it was, I’d never give you another chance.)
I gave this 2 out of 5, but that was generous. It’s probably closer to 1.5. I was able to finish it, but only because I felt like I owed it that much, since I got the book free in exchange for a review.
There were so many things that bothered me about this book. So many things. The dialogue….oh my god it was horrible. Stilted, unnatural, and formal. Ted’s constant quipping. Angel’s holier-than-though refusal to use contractions. Hokey descriptions of attraction and affection.
Then there are the characters themselves. Angel is likeable enough, though you get no back story on her. She’s slightly overzealous, then suddenly competent, then even more suddenly she’s down on herself and lacking in confidence. Ted pats her on the hand, and she’s once again Superwoman. Her father thinks she’s irresponsible, and the first introduction to her sets her up that way. Then she meets Ted, and she’s suddenly this wise spiritual counselor. There’s no mention of how she got her education, no mention of her ability to do the spiritual “work” she’s leading Ted through. The reader is expected to believe in her simply because you’re told to….much like Ted.
Speaking of Ted, what a wet blanket. He has convictions, and by gosh, he’s sticking to them. Until Angel says “go,” and then his convictions are suddenly lacking. He’ll do whatever she tells him, regardless of his misgivings. Question her training? Her motives? Eh, Ted will think about it once, but then he’ll remember her silky black hair and long legs, and everything is a-ok in Ted’s world. The way he lusts after Angel is juvenile and almost seems like self-denial. And oh, don’t forget…must pull Argo close for comfort. (That same phrase was repeated at least five times in the book.)
In general, the book is completely devoid of setting. The only part that was well-depicted was Ted’s mountain hike. Kincaid’s description of the setting was vivid enough to make me want to be hiking. That was slightly sullied, however, by Ted’s naive approach to the bears he encounters…complete lack of respect for an apex predator. No, Ted’s just happy they can coexist in the same space. (Which ok, I get that – it’s a nice thought. But don’t downplay the bear, ok?) The hiking episode was further ruined when Ted had trouble opening a can of food, but no trouble pitching a tent. REALLY???
As for the story……sigh. The whole thing smacks of born-again Christian theology, and by the end, is pretty heavy-handed. Angel is Lakota, but literally the only two references to her culture are the drum music she likes to listen to and the fact that her mother was an alcoholic. Yes, I’m serious. Stereotype much? Angel “leads” Ted on a spiritual journey with elements of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, but everything comes back to Christianity. Mohammad is compared to Jesus, Buddha is compared to Jesus, and Ted only grasps concepts by explaining how Jesus said the same thing.
The idea of self-actualization is a decent enough concept, but poorly explored. Kincaid attempts to explain the concepts in simple terms, but all he does is muddy an already difficult topic. Which reminds me….Angel mentions several times that the progression through the levels (or grades, as she refers to them) is difficult – yet Ted grasps them all in less than 2 weeks. The only semi-positive thing about the whole deal was the footnotes referring me to other texts. I might check some of them out, since I got so little information here, and now I’m curious.
By the time Angel and Ted get to the fifth of six levels, it’s clear Kincaid was tired of writing. I was definitely tired of reading. I kind of wish he’d saved us both the trouble.
Thrown into all of this is the fact that Ted is a lawyer and has agreed to help Aunt Lilly get out of being convicted for shooting her husband. Apparently Aunt Lilly’s spirit bear told her to do it, so she did, and that’s a problem. Honestly, that was the most interesting part of the book, and even that is poorly explored.
And don’t even get me started on Mr. Digit. *Shudder*
Greg Kincaid is the author of “A Dog Named Christmas,” which has been on my to-read list for years. According to his book jacket, he’s also heavily involved in the “Foster a Lonely Pet for the Holidays” campaign. That only slightly makes up for Tantric Coconuts.
Again, Mr. Kincaid…I’m sure plenty of people will love this book. I’m not one of them, unfortunately.
I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.