I love to read just about anything, as long as it's fiction. I read for me - that means I read what I want, when I want. My reviews tend to mostly be based on how I'm able to personally connect with the story/characters. They are not intended to influence someone to read, or not read, a particular book. I always encourage people to take a chance and make up your own mind.
Oh, and I love chocolate.
I'll start by stating that I can't remember when I got this book. I think it was given to me several years ago by a family member, along with a few other books. I've been trying to read some of the books that have been sitting on my shelf a long time, and Antonia's Choice was next up.
It's a Christian book -- I'm a Christian, but I don't read many 'Christian' books. Not that I have anything against them, I guess it's just that I feel solid enough in my own faith that I don't need to read a book where the author is cramming her/his beliefs down my throat. Overall, I think the Christian references were well done in some areas but just missed the mark for me in others. I realize this was set in Tennessee where it's not uncommon for any random stranger to ask you where you go to church, but sometimes it just felt a bit forced. In my world (reality) not all Christians are made the same, but in this book it felt as if they were. They all talked the same and thought the same. You can still be a Christian and think differently than the Christian sitting next to you - and you can be a good Christian and go to a therapist who is not a Christian and still get amazing help and support. It just felt as if the author wanted to paint this world that only the Christians were the good people who wanted to help and support Toni and those who didn't want to help must not have been Christians. I think that is a very incomplete and judgemental point of view.
Overall I felt the plot was an important subject. Toni discovered that her son was a victim of child pornography and molestation. Being a mother myself, I know this would be a situation that would be very difficult to navigate. It's not one you would ever expect to be in, so there really is no way to prepare if this becomes your reality.
What I liked -- I liked the support that Toni and her son, Ben, were given. I liked that Toni made difficult decisions to do what was right for her son. She distanced herself and her son from those who were unhealthy for their healing process. I thought it was realistic that Toni also needed therapy for what had happened. I liked the overall healing approach to the entire situation and felt that it was very realistic. I also liked that not everything worked out perfectly in the end (although enough did to slightly push the boundary of realism).
What I didn't like -- basically it was the overall style and tone of the book. It made it difficult for me to really become invested in the lives of these characters. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was published back in 2003. I don't remember, but I don't think child pornography and molestation issues were as understood then as they are now. However, I don't care if you are 'maternal' or not -- if your 6-year-old suddenly starts wetting the bed, screaming in terror when you try to touch them, refuse to take baths, goes into a coma like state when talking about certain people... I mean, come on. If you have half a brain (and since Toni has an MBA it's presented that she has a very full brain) then you have to know that something is seriously messed up. Toni wouldn't consider therapy for Ben until she was informed that he was a part of the pornography pictures that were taken. That doesn't measure up for me.
Some of the characterization drove me nuts in this book. For example, there's this character Hale who the author describes as square. It's mentioned so much that I started to envision Sponge Bob in his place. Then there was Doc Opie. It was explained that the kids called him that because of his physical resemblance to Opie of Andy of Mayberry. OK -- this book was published in 2003 and Toni is 30-something. That means I'm roughly the age of the main character. I as an adult would not look at Opie himself and think, "Wow, that looks like Opie." Maybe some will, but most in my age group didn't grow up hooked on Andy of Mayberry. That would mean the children of people my age certainly wouldn't know who Opie was. Maybe the one-off kid who watched the channel that plays all of the old shows, but not enough that the 'kids' would call him Doc Opie. And to make it more annoying, she called him Doc Opie (Toni, who is the narrator) throughout the rest of the book. It was very distracting.
Certainly some of these 'issues' I had with the book are nit-picky, but for me they interfered with my ability to really become emotionally attached to the characters or the story. With this kind of subject line, emotional attachment is important.
Some may love it, so I'm not saying stay away from it. It just wasn't for me.