Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-335-21673-1
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Avery Montgomery and Elwood Jackson had a thing in the past, until she dumped him and ran out of town because of her lack of confidence that they would ever work out. You know how it is, though: she will always love him, ooh bittersweet memories, that is all she’s taking with her, so goodbye, please don’t cry, et cetera. Well, when Wherever You Are opens, she’s now a big shot behind the scenes in Hollywood, and she’s back in town to deliver a speech at the University of Michigan as part of its Black Celebratory program. She meets El again, of course, and he is now a psychiatrist. She is all, “Ooh, ooh, he hates me now, oh the anguish!” but fortunately, she gets a stroke so she’s stuck in town and has no choice but to be around El, especially when the stroke leaves her with her vision impaired. Will her stroke finally gets El to give her the strokes that she really wants?
Now, take my two-oogie rating comes with a caveat. If I didn’t know anything about stroke, this one would likely be a three-oogie read. Sure, the main characters are on the very familiar side, and the plot is actually uninspired and played out, but the author has a nice style that allows her to pull off both emotional and humorous scenes with equal finesse. However, this story has the two main characters going through some of the most predictable song and dance ever, thus poor Avery and El never really have any chance to become more than two stock characters in a generic, done-many-times-before story. Still, it’s a pretty pleasant read with some good scenes, so normally it’d get three oogies under any other circumstances.
But here’s a big “but” – the author’s portrayal of stroke. It’s very unrealistic. I cringe when Avery is told that her stroke arises entirely from stress, and no effort is made by the healthcare team to discern whether there are any other lifestyle factors that may have contributed to it. I also cringe when the author has the heroine being told that her stroke was due to “blood in her brain”. Oh please, of course there is blood in a brain – the brain has many, many blood vessels, because blood carries oxygen and substrates that are needed to keep the brain cells alive and functional. What kind of doctor will give that kind of line to a patient, especially a well-educated patient? And then, there is no emphasis on the increased risk of a second, possibly more devastating stroke or lifestyle adjustments Avery will have to make to reduce this risk.
No, stroke here is basically a “thing” that Avery spends some time in a hospital for, before walking out with little more than some “cute” disability (that won’t affect her looks, sex appeal, or fecundity) so that heroine can flail around in angst.
Oh, and it’s 2018, but Avery insists that being blind means that she can never write again. Come on, please!
The foundation for the angst and flailing around in Wherever You Are doesn’t work for me at all, hence the two oogies.