Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review: "Two Ways to Sunday" (Tom Starita)

If you reached the end of your life and were given the opportunity to go back and do things differently ... sort of the butterfly effect idea ... would you accept the chance? And if you did, would you live your life differently?

Now you understand the conundrum in which Chris Marcum finds himself. Readers meet him near the end of his life, in the year 2052, ridden with illness so terrible he can't do anything for himself anymore, can't even write, which has been almost his sole purpose up to now. He's married to Jen, a beautiful woman he loves very deeply, and he's on a rapid decline.

Then, an angel meets him in his hospital room, and everything changes.

What would you do if you could do everything over again?

Author Tom Starita presents Two Ways to Sunday, Christian fiction in which Chris lives out his life story and comes to terms with his faith, regardless of his changing (and often chaotic) circumstances.

As a writer myself, it was easy to relate to Chris from the start, being unable to imagine how I would feel if I were in his situation: physically unable to write any more, when writing had been so much his life; having to rely on others when he had previously been so independent and self-sufficient. My heart broke for his losses, everything he suffered.

The premise of the work is also intriguing. Given the opportunity to go back and take the other "road less traveled," with no memory of your previous life and its choices and direction, what would happen? What would you learn? Would it prove worthwhile? These questions, and many others, are among those with which Chris wrestles in the work, along with timeless themes of love, betrayal, trust, hope, loss, despair, and second chances.

That having been said, I struggled with the work in a number of ways. A future edition would benefit enormously from a close edit and proofread to catch the errors and inconsistencies that kept distracting me. Some of the characters and the dialogue fell flat and felt less than genuine. The leaps from one decade to another, jumping back and forth along the continuum of Chris's life, left me reeling, trying to keep everything straight in my mind.

Further, a lot of the story was "telling" rather than "showing" (see here and here for resources) --- a great deal of summary, which left me skimming paragraphs, hoping for more forward momentum. There's always a time for telling rather than showing in fiction, of course, but a lot of back story and summary tend not to benefit a novel.

Finally, I didn't realize the novel was supposed to be set in the 2050s, and I think much more could have been made of the futuristic place where Chris and his loved ones were purported to exist. Except for a couple of nods to futuristic science and technological development, the work might have been set just as easily in the current year, or ten years ago.

The Christian message --- that God is ever-present and deserving of trust and worship, even in confusion or uncertainty or suffering --- is true enough, and one as old as the Book of Job (and then some) in the Old Testament. I would simply have preferred to see a more active, three-dimensional work encompassing that message for delivery.

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Author: Tom Starita
Title: Two Ways to Sunday
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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