Thank You to Troubador Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of Jules Smith's novel, Sophie's Throughway, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- Sophie Rhodes is leading a very stressful life. Her oldest child, Brendon is on the cusp of finishing high school, if he doesn't get kicked out first. Brendon has been diagnosed with both Aspergers and Pathological Demand Avoidance. His behavior is unpredictable and difficult to control, often dangerous. Sophie fears that her younger child, Bryony, could be in danger when Brendon lashes out, or at the very least, isn't getting the attention that she needs. Sophie's husband Karl is fed up and bails on the family. Can Sophie hold down her job, manage life as a single-mother, and get Brendon to graduate, before she has a nervous break down?
LIKE- The set up with the family dynamic is strong and compelling. It's easy to feel for the Rhodes family as they struggle to deal with Brendon's mental imbalance. Bryony, the child stuck in the middle of all of this madness might be the most sympathetic character. I think it would have been even more compelling, if the story had included her POV and not just Sophie's.
DISLIKE- Although technically all of the story elements were there, Sophie's Throughway fell flat. Although I have empathy for Sophie's situation, she's not a compelling lead character. A majority of the story, she is passive, it carries on for so long, that when she finally takes action, I'm not moved. It's tough to keep interest when the main character is a doormat.
Another problem is the plot. There is a side story involving Sophie's love life. She's flirting with a mysterious stranger on "Words with Friends" and she becomes involved with her soon-to-be-former boss. The love story is secondary to the family drama, but the problem is it's never fully developed and then it fizzles. It's not satisfying. The story ends on a upbeat, but it doesn't make me feel like issues have been resolved. This story is slice-of-life, but it doesn't quite work as such.
My anticipations were off. In the beginning, I thought Sophie's Throughway would take a much darker twist, as there was a build surrounding Brendon's violent tendencies. This is the whole, "if you show a gun on stage, it better go off" principal. The idea was introduced, but never developed. The tone is actually more chick-lit, and in-line with the book cover art.
RECOMMEND- No. I think that Jules Smith is a good writer, but Sophie's Throughway is not a good novel. It's messy and underwhelming. The only people that I'd recommend it to are parents/siblings/et, of children with Aspergers, as they might find it relatable.