Fireworks Over Toccoa
by Jeffrey Stepakoff
Lily Woodward’s husband left right after their marriage to fight in the war, but after three years he’s finally coming home. She’s nervous; Lily barely knew her husband before he left and who knows what he’ll be like after three years of fighting? When she meets mysterious, handsome Jake setting up fireworks in a grassy field, it’s love at first sight, and Lily finds her heart torn between love and duty.
This book was described to me as a “historical fiction set at the end of World War II” with a fireworks man as the main character. Well, that sounds pretty cool, I thought, so I got a copy of the book sent to me. Unfortunately, the fireworks in the narrative aren’t of the pyrotechnic variety…
DISCLAIMER: I didn’t actually finish reading this book. I quit about a third of the way in.
WARNING: Incoherent rant ahead.
This is an extremely clichéd chick lit/romance novel. The beginning smacks of the movie Titanic, as an old woman recognizes a possession from her golden youth in a newspaper article. She and her granddaughter visit the museum where the memento is housed, and the old woman begins sharing her story. Then fly backwards to 1945, where a girl who married a soldier at 17 has an affair with a hunky young Italian she has known for only a few hours, just a few days before her husband returns from fighting in Europe. It's so predictable.
The dialogue is incredibly cheesy and stilted, as are the descriptions. It makes me think of a movie treatment, almost...yes. This book is written with the intention of optioning for a movie, and the goal of becoming the romantic drama summer hit of 2012. I'm not just saying this because the author is a screenwriter. Everything about this book, from the way the plot is constructed and conversations unfold to the way everything is described seems to be done to maximize the ease of transitioning the story to film.
Remember the old rule, "Show, don't tell"? Every scene that I read is exposition and description and with little depth to the story. I guess the flat, simple language is good if you want to read something light...but ugh. I personally have very little patience for this the sentimental/nostalgic romance genre, but the writing does have its pretty moments.
As I wrote in a Facebook status update, “Suzi is reading a book that, if it were a movie, would be a sappy romance with Taylor Swift on the soundtrack and Amanda Seyfried as the lead… Shoot me now.” If, however, Amanda Seyfried and Taylor Swift sound like a grand ol’ time to you, do check out this book. I think you’ll enjoy it. Fans of Nicholas Sparks will eat this right up.