Friday, October 30, 2015

The Quest for Forgiveness: Have We Finally Reached the End of the Book?

So I dropped off the face of the earth for a couple weeks, but here's a Friday blog and MAYYYYBE someday more blogs will be headed your way! I hope! Anyway...

Last time, Brianna discovered this mysterious soldier was her long-lost adopted brother, which was ridiculous, and everyone was happy.

Brianna's upcoming wedding to the adult man who fell in love with her when she was a high school sophomore is being planned, and she even repurchases her grandparents' ocean home she loved so much. It had been sold to pay off debt, but she buys it back so she can have her wedding there.

Her wedding is apparently beautiful, though she really only has her family and her bodyguards there because these are the only friends she has. We spend about 3 pages talking about how beautiful her wedding is, and it's all very generic and cliched, and that's the end of the chapter.

In fact... that's nearly the end of the book.

What we have left is epilogues. But if I recall correctly, the epilogues still have some delightfully terrible stuff in them, so on we go.

We begin with Sonya. Sonya gets engaged to Sexual-Harassment-Harry almost immediately after Brianna gets back from her one-week honeymoon, so it seems every woman in this book is part of the "Let's get engaged to people we haven't been dating because this is always a great idea" club. Brianna donates money so Sonya can be a lawyer again (finally!) but only do pro bono adoption cases. Eventually Sonya and Harry adopt children themselves and everyone's happy.

We're told about the fates of Brianna's not-Conrad bodyguards, which I could not care less about because I couldn't even remember their names. Bruno apparently becomes the chancellor of Germany's head of security. Jonathan and Cathy become Brianna and Conrad's bodyguards and... chefs? Nothing like hiring the only friends you have to cook for you in your luxurious Caribbean retreat.

Eric and Gabriella (Brianna's adopted brother and his wife) move to Texas, where he starts a Christian band, and then his epilogue segues into a personal ad:
His favorite things to do were moonlight walks on the beach with Gabi, and hunting shells with his children.
Ethan moves into his beach home in Corpus Christi and starts a music publishing company which is like 75% Brianna's music. Then he gets married and lives happily ever after.

And now, finally, to Brianna.

Well, first of all:
One year after her wedding, Brianna Bays faced the press again to make an announcement. She and her husband, Conrad, would be permanently moving to their home in the Caribbean.
Which is a bit confusing because two pages earlier we had this:
A couple times a year Sonya and her family would fly to the Caribbean, or the Texas retreat to visit their close friends, Brianna and Conrad Thompson.
Which led me at first to believe that Sonya's visits to the Caribbean were completely unrelated to any visits to Brianna, thanks to that awkward comma and to not telling us about the Caribbean move until two pages after this. But then as I continued reading I began to think Brianna was living in both homes. But apparently no. Sonya just visits the Texas retreat to see them, which must be disappointing since they're not there. You'd think she'd have learned after going there like twice.

Bruno's section mentions a yearly reunion of the group, and I wondered at first if maybe *that* was what it was referring to, but, nope, that happens in the Caribbean. Maybe Sonya just wants to visit Ethan.

All right. So, terrible continuity aside, there is a section of the epilogues I have major problems with:
Later that year, she bore twins, a boy, and a girl. They named their daughter after Brianna’s mother, “Mira Grace.” Their son they called, “Ethan Jeremiah.” 
Brianna Bays was gone forever. She was Mandy Dawn Thompson now. 
She would never act or perform again, but she would continue doing what she loved best— singing. While she no longer sang for thousands of fans in concert halls around the world, she would perform a limited number of concerts for charities and churches.
Brianna Bays, who has been so obsessed with music her whole life, abandons her career to take care of her kids.

Now let me make this clear. I have NO PROBLEM with moms choosing their kids over their career. People can do what they want. I don't think that makes her less of a person or a weak woman or anything like that, that's ridiculous.

I just think it's wildly out of character.

Shall we review some of the things Brianna has said about music in the past?
“I have my music— that’s all I need.” 
“I find music eases my soul. Ethan... my father, said I have the talent to make music by the way I feel.” 
“I’ve always found comfort in my music. I guess you could call my music my drug of choice.” 
“My music drives me every day— the next song, the next tune, the next lyrics. . . . I don’t think haunt is the right word. However, they do seem to control me. I hear them repeatedly. When I put one down on paper, the next one begins. They just never seem to end.”
Over and over again, the book paints Brianna's relationship to music as something incredibly special and important and comforting to her. Music is her LIFE. Even after she becomes a Christian and finds Ethan, music is still one of the most important things in her life. And as someone who has a very close connection to art -- and not even as close a connection as Brianna seems to have -- I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to almost entirely give up a career doing something I loved that much.

Not that it couldn't have been the right choice for her. Not saying that at all. But the book paints it as the *obvious* right choice. She has no doubts, no concerns, she doesn't miss it once it's gone. The book doesn't even bring up that it *is* her choice. It's almost as if by having the babies, she automatically contracted herself to stay home and take care of them because that's what women do. And with all the work this book has done emphasizing that Brianna's music is her whole world, to dismiss this without even a question makes it seem like her music was never even really that important to her in the first place.

(I'm also not sure what they mean by saying she does concerts but never performs again. What counts as "performing" and what counts as "singing"? Is this new stuff acoustic? No dancing? Tiny venues only?)

Incidentally, no news on what Conrad's doing. Has Brianna made enough money that they're both just going to retire on that (after she's finished buying Caribbean islands and funding an entire law firm out of pocket for Sonya), or is he now living pretty much 24/7 as a retirement bodyguard for some other famous pop star as he did with Brianna?

It's just frustrating, because if there was anything I connected with Brianna with, it was her love for music, and immediately giving up the thing that the ENTIRE BOOK was about her loving so much... is really anticlimactic. It'd be like Natalie Portman in Black Swan giving up ballet via a 5-second clip at the end or Salieri from Amadeus ending the play with the line, "You know, I think actually I've decided to become a plumber." It. Doesn't. Fit.

But all that ranting leads us to our very, very last line:
As for Brianna Bays, her Quest for Forgiveness was fulfilled.
As is ours. And I am finally free from the obnoxious Mary Sues, the ignorant rants disguised as passionate speeches, the glaringly obvious lack of research, and the hilarious dialogue that is nearly impossible to say without laughing.

...Until I grit my teeth and plunge into The Quest for Freedom, of course.

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