Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang

My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang
Copyright 2008
Tyndale House - Fiction/Christian
340 pages

What led you to pick up this book? Brittanie sent me her ARC because she thought I'd like it and , oh, wow . . . she knows me well. I read the cover blurb and plopped right down immediately.

Describe the book without giving anything away. When Catherine "Dilly" Carlson committed a crime that landed her behind bars for six years, her sister Hannah felt guilty. If only she'd have stayed Illinois instead of moving to California, the crime never would have occurred. Or, so Hannah believes.

To atone for her absence, Hannah has spent years saving up the money to move home. Her objective is to be there for Dilly, but in order to do so she has had no choice but to leave behind a terrific job and the only man she has ever loved. Hannah expects her sister to be thrilled with the plan, but things have changed in a way that Hannah never could have anticipated.

What did you like most about the book? My Sister Dilly is a wonderful story about faith, love, redemption, family, respecting people with disabilities, dealing with the past . . . lots of issues but they all fit together and the story is very nicely focused. I had a terrible time putting it down.

What did you think of the characters? I cared about them and wanted to know what would happen. I did become a little weary of Hannah's justification for not returning to California when it became obvious that she had a very good reason to change course, but eventually Hannah makes sense of everything.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book? I think it could have lost about 50 pages. Sometimes, there was just a bit too much everyday detail -- not a big enough problem to put me off, though. Also, I had a little trouble with the POV switches. The book is primarily Hannah's story, but it occasionally switches to Dilly's perspective. However, toward the end I thought it became clear why the author made the choice to occasionally switch to Dilly's point of view.

Recommended? Highly recommended. I think it's a beautiful story in too many ways to list.

Anything else worth mentioning? It's a Christian book and you can expect talk about God, but the main character has spent years rebelling against her Christian upbringing because of her Bible-thumping, rule-enforcing, and somewhat cold parents. Hannah spends most of the book feeling confused and ambivalent about God. On the flip side, Dilly believes she would never have survived prison if she hadn't rediscovered Jesus.

Cover thoughts: I like the cover for its looks; I think it's lovely. But, it doesn't entirely fit. Hannah and Dilly were raised on a farm -- a hog farm, though. To my knowledge wheat fields aren't all that relevant to the story, even though it takes place in the Midwest. On a side note, I love wheat because it reminds me of home. Wheat and a big, wide open sky . . . probably one of my favorite sights. Also, I have to mention that when the author described the hog farm, her description was so vivid I still imagined I was smelling manure for an hour after I put down the book.

What do you think? I always talk about the religious element of books (including, recently, a book that was very pro-Buddhist) and whether I consider a book preachy or heavily religious because I think that's something people tend to want to know about. How about you? Does Christianity in a novel effect whether or not you'll consider reading it? If so, do you feel that way about other religions and how they're portrayed? Just curious. My library has an interesting identification system. The Christian novels have a little picture of Jesus on the spine. Sci-fi novels have a little space-age symbol, Westerns sport a pair of boots with spurs, mysteries and romance . . . can't remember, but they have their own little spine emblems, too. I love that! It's nice to have that extra little bit of information when you're browsing.

Just walked in:

Cattery Row by Clea Simon - won in a drawing at Thoughts of Joy. Thank you, Joy!

Cruel Intent by J. A. Vance - Sent by Simon & Schuster - I'm not sure about this one, as I've never read the author. Are her books nightmare-inducing? Warn me, if they are, somebody.

A parcel from Carrie K., who is one of my bestest best blog friends because she she's witty and fun and has a great cat whose portrait I'm going to take, someday. I'll take picsof the bounty and show you, tomorrow, if we're not out playing in the snow that is allegedly due to arrive any moment now (none of us are holding our breath). Actually, we're getting tons of Mississippi Snow . . . the melted kind.

Also, I have to show you what my wonderful, amazing Secret Santa Blog Christmas Exchange Pal gave me! Bellezza, another blogger I adore and count as one of my bosom blogging buddies was my Secret Santa. It's all so very, very perfect. Oh, and I was going to save everything for Christmas, but I couldn't wait and ripped into it. Thank you, Bellezza! More on that, later.

I've been out doing my part helping the economy, today, so I haven't read a word. I'd better hush up and do that. Sorry about the lack of wahoos. Busy, busy, but I'll make my gifties my belated wahoo. Have a wahooey day!


  1. Snow!?! Actually, there was talk about us having some snow (or more likely ice) last night, but it was dry as a bone this morning. It is really burry here, though!!

    I hope you're having a great Wednesday!

  2. I am happy you liked the book. This weather is awful! I extremely dislike it. I am ready for summer already. Ugh. Good news is hopefully it is killin the mosquito eggs. :)

  3. Trish,

    I like the word burry. :) It hasn't stopped raining, here, for most of the past two days. I was bummed about having to go out to do my shopping, today, but it couldn't wait. Now, whether or not I'll get around to mailing things because of snow remains to be seen (not likely, but it's snowing near Houston). We're still getting the melted variety, but we are shivering!!!


    Isn't it awful? I much prefer snow to this cold, rainy mess. Yuck, yuck. I'm not ready for summer, though. Heat and I do not get along. Dead mosquitoes are the only good kind. :)

  4. I just wanted to thank you for the refreshing review of My Sister Dilly! Glad you enjoyed the book. By the way, what a wonderful blog you have. I'm privileged to be mentioned.
    Happy Reading!

  5. Maureen,

    You're very welcome! I loved My Sister Dilly and look forward to eventually reading more of your work -- thanks for dropping by! And, thank you for the compliment on my blog! :)

  6. Another book to look for! Thanks for the review!

  7. Jenclair,

    You're very welcome. It's a good one.

  8. Anonymous12:38 PM

    I know some may be put off by Christian books and I don't seek them out - I don't think I would mind at all if it's relevant to the story. I like how and why you bring it up.

    Wahoo to you!

  9. Care,

    That's exactly how I feel. I don't like a book that pushes an agenda, regardless of what the agenda happens to be, but I don't care if characters are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or anything else, as long as it's just a part of the characterization or relevant to the story. Thank you! I'm glad my way of talking about it works for you.

    Wahoo right back at ya! :)

  10. I don't really read "christian" fiction books but I like the sound of this one. I'll have to think about it some more :)

    Can't wait to hear what your secret santa got you!

  11. Iliana,

    I think the best Christian books are those in which the Christianity is simply a part of the characterization. In this case, it was really important to the characters and the storyline; it's just a fantastic story.

    I'm being lazy, today. I don't feel like getting the camera out, but I'll have to do that in a bit. I'm freezing and all bundled up. I look like the Michelin man. That's probably why I don't feel like moving. LOL

  12. Man, in less than a week we have had a snowstorm, a rainstorm, and a freezing rain storm. It is no wonder people get sick! It just proves the philosophy that if you don't like the weather here, wait five minutes...

  13. Great review. This books sounds like something I would like so yet another one for the old wish list.

  14. Kailana,

    I know what you mean. We've gone from sunny and in the 60s to the mid-70s with a tornadic storm, followed by a drop to the 30s and rain, rain, rain. And, we're supposed to warm back up to the 60s by Sunday! Wild.

    Funny you should mention that old saw about, "If you don't like the weather . . ." because we were just talking about that on one of my book listservs. That's been a common saying everywhere I've lived -- the Midwest, the South, and Oklahoma (not sure, yet, how Oklahoma is defined).

  15. Dar,

    I've just recently started reading your blog regularly and I do believe you'd enjoy it. :)

  16. This sounds really good. Great review! I like to know in advance if books are preachy because that tends to put me off. But that is just me :)

  17. Samantha,

    Thank you! And, thanks for sharing your opinion. I like to know, too. :)

  18. Anonymous1:44 AM

    ohh I Know i will love it .. and what a great friend.. who knows your taste in books so well :)
    That's so so so Nice :)

  19. Veens,

    It's a great story. And, yep, Brittanie is terrific! She's very generous with her books. :)

  20. I have to admit that the label "Christian fiction" usually puts me off. I know, I know.. I don't mind religion showing up in a story if it's relevant but like you said to Care, I don't like ones that push an agenda or are preachy in any sense.

    And wow, what crazy weather you've been having!

  21. Nat,

    I think it's really kind of fascinating that Christian fiction is a whole separate genre. The important thing is . . . the story has to be good and not just a platform for an author's viewpoints or it's probably not worth the time.

    The weather . . . ugh. I'm going back to bed. It's too cold to do anything. I'm waiting for the sun to come out.


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