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I'd never read anything by C J Box before, but this book came up on my recommendations on Amazon and I thought "Why not?". Boy I was not disappointed.
The two main characters have been unable to have their own child so they have adopted a young girl from a local teenager. Just days before the adoption is finalised the child's biological father raises an objection to the adoption and the adoptive parents are put in the impossible position of having to say goodbye to their longed for and much loved daughter. They are given (as the title suggests!) three weeks to say goodbye.
During those three weeks, it becomes apparent that the father doesn't actually want his daughter, but is being coerced by his father, a local judge. This book follows the twists and turns taken by the adoptive father as he fights to keep 'his' daughter and find out the truth behind the last minute change of heart.
I read a lot of books similar to this, and I pride myself on being able to guess the twist, or at least have a good idea where the book is likely to end. I was genuinely surprised by the ending. The writing style really draws you in and you will find yourself really empathising with the adoptive parents. At times you'll even find yourself having a little sympathy for the biological father.
Since reading this book, I have moved onto other titles by this author. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
This is one of the first books i downloaded on my Kindle app. From the free sample i was hooked and defy anyone else not to be. Set in Denver America a young-ish couple adopt a child but things go wrong and they get mixed up in all sorts of events and undesirable people! i wont say any more as the book has some hidden twist which you wouldnt expect, although at somepoints i couldnt connect with the book as it did seem abit far fetched but i dont work and live out in Denver, America!!! Be ready for some oohs, ahhs and maybe a few tears in this great fiction by c.j. box, i think this should be made into a film or certainly a episode of a crime show or something as is a really good story and keeps the reader hooked from start to finish! fab that it is available on KIndle too!
My local library has a fairly limited adult fiction section but just about anything can be ordered in from the central library, the only problem being you have to be inspired as to what you want to read first. I reserved this book having read the other dooyoo review of it and thought it sounded worth a read.
I obviously didn't pay enough attention to the review as on reading the blurb on the back of the book I was immediately disappointed in my choice. It starts off as I expected ...
"After years of trying for a child, Jack and Melissa McGuane have finally adopted a baby girl, but nine months later a call from the adoption agency plunges them into a nightmare that will force them to take the law into their own hands as they fight to keep their family together. The child's biological father - an 18-year-old boy - never signed away his parental rights, and now he wants their daughter back. " ... this much I remembered from the review and based on this thought I would be getting an emotional family, possibly coutroom drama.
The blurb continues ...
"It is immediately obvious that the boy has no real interest in the child, his own father is forcing his hand. But why? The law can't protect Jack and Melissa. The boy's father is a well connected federal judge: their attorney won't touch the case, Jack's job is suddenly and inexplicably under threat. On the other side of the law, the boy is connected with Sureno13 - a powerful and dangerous street gang. Together, father and son wage a harrowing campaign aimed at destroying Jack and Melissa's hapless family. The only person on their side is a disgraced, 'dirty' cop...The question is, how far is Jack prepared to go to protect his family? " ... this 'thriller' aspect to the story came as a bit of a surprise, and not a welcome one. I like a good thriller, but unfortunately find that many thrillers do not earn the title good (or thrilling) and are just disappointing.
Its difficult to say much about the story in the book as it is all set out above, bad men want the baby and the adoptive parents have to break the law to try and keep her. Knowing all this in advance of reading the opening sentence means there is a distinct lack of suspense in the book. I suppose there is the question of exactly what bad things the bad men do, and how far the law gets broken but even this is laid out from early on in the book. I like to immerse myself in a story rather than try to predict what happens but despite this I did get the feeling a few times during this book that I knew what was coming and I got to the end feeling that most of it was completely as predicted and I'd just plodded through the story for the second half. I was surprised on re-reading the cover to see numerous recommendations with references to suspense and twists as honestly on reading it I had some debate with myself but decided that it was so obvious it couldn't have been meant to have twists in.
The plotline of the book was very straightforward, it is written from the point of view of Jack McGuane the adoptive father of the baby, and the other main characters his wife Melissa, their friends Cody and Brian and the birth father Garrett and his father Judge Moreland. All the characters seem quite one-dimensional and I didn't empathise with any of them. As a mother to a 20 month old I expected the central story to resonate strongly but it didn't, in fact it didn't seem like the central story but quite an incidental one and the anguish the adoptive parents should have felt at being told they had to give up their daughter was not very well-developed. I found the whole story very far-fetched, it seemed like a completely ridiculous, manufactured situation rather than what it should have been which was ordinary people flung into an extraordinary situation.
On the plus side the simple story and writing make it easy to read and I got through the whole book quite quickly without feeling bored, I just didn't feel much of anything.
Here's hoping the next book I read will have more impact!
I seem to be reading books so quickly at this moment in time. I have always enjoyed reading but I seem to be getting through 2 books a week at the moment. Every time I sit on the Eurostar to go to and from Brussels I seem to get half way through another book (and that's a journey without any delays). The fact that I am reading so many books means that I am finally getting round to reading the masses that I have bought and been placed onto the bookshelf and then forgotten about. This has been the case with Three Weeks To Say Goodbye by CJ Box. I bought the book in Tesco in January when the blurb sucked me in but hadn't got around to reading it. I decided to pack it into my travel bag and it was the next in line to be read.
*About CJ Box*
C.J. Box is an Edgar award winning author and has written eleven novels. He has also won the Anthony Award, Prix Calibre38, the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, and the Barry Award. He comes from Wyoming and lives with his wife.
*A Brief Summary of the Plot*
Jack and Melissa McGuane have tried for years to conceive with no success. After years of trying to have a baby, they turned to adoption to make their dreams of becoming a parent reality. Angelina, their daughter is perfect but nine months after bringing her into their family they are delivered some devastating news from the adoption agency. Angelina's birth father (and son of an influential Denver judge) didn't sign away his parental rights... and he wants her back! They are given three weeks to say goodbye to their gorgeous daughter after the face-to-face meeting to try and persuade Garrett and his father not to take away their pride and joy fails. Jack and Melissa will do anything to keep their child but what will happen?
*Key Characters and My Thoughts of Them*
Jack McGuane: Jack is a hard-working, normal guy. He certainly isn't the most intelligent man in his office but he makes up for this by being extremely conscientious and reliable. I really did click with the character of Jack although I was slightly confused by some of his actions throughout. He was definitely a believable and likeable character.
Melissa McGuane: Melissa is the adoptive mother of Angelina and the wife of Jack. I find that she is perhaps the most realistic character in the book. She clearly loves Angelina with every part of her being and throughout the novel you see her desperation to protect her. She has her flaws and these are made evident by Box but this only adds to my sympathy towards her situation.
Cody: Cody is one of Jack's oldest friends and a cop who likes to play by his own rules. He generally has justice at the heart of his decisions but is a character that drinks way too much. I didn't particularly like the character of Cody but have a read yourself and see if you view him in a positive light.
Brian: Brian is also one of Jack's boyhood friends although has a completely different personality to Cody. He is a property developer and also openly gay. I really liked the character of Brian, he was very popular in the community and was possibly my favourite due to his positive outlook on life.
John Moreland: He is a very powerful Denver judge who is well connected in Denver as well as being extremely wealthy. He is also the father of Garrett Moreland, the teenage boy who had not given up his parental rights to Angelina. From the moment we met John, I found that I instantly didn't like him. Something didn't sit right with me about his motives for wanting the baby back. I'll leave it there as I don't want to give anything about his character away.
Garrett Moreland: Garrett is a nasty and disturbed 18 year old. We meet him quite early on and I instantly hated his character. Would he change my mind with his behaviour as the book continued?
Gripping, heart-wrenching and exciting. These are three words that can summarise this book. From the moment that I picked this book up, I became extremely difficult to speak to as anything anyone said to me, went in one ear and out the other. I really was hooked from the first page. There was no 100 pages of setting up the family home and boredom like with some books, you are thrown straight into the story which I particularly liked. I wasn't given unnecessary and boring details, merely the essentials for you to get a feel for the characters and their plight.
I found the characterisation in this book excellent and perhaps the reason that I found it so emotional. You are attached to Jack and Melissa, a normal couple who clearly love each other but have reached breaking point when they realise that together, they are infertile. When reading this book I felt real empathy for them. I thought that the way that Box depicted them was extremely realistic, and showed that they had flaws like people in reality. It is narrated by John, Angelina's father although I don't find that he necessarily dominates the story more than Melissa. There seems to be a good balance.
The way that the book was laid out was enjoyable. It was split into days left until Jack and Melissa had to say goodbye to Angelina and then into chapters. I found that this made it easier to read whilst also increase the suspense of the reader. With this style of writing and layout, I found that the pages of this book turned themselves. It was that well written that I found I couldn't put it down unless I had read at least 4 or 5 chapters at a time.
I think part of the reason that I enjoyed this book so much is the plot. It wasn't merely a thriller with a murder and the detectives trying to catch the killer. There was a real, emotive storyline behind the chase. Perhaps there are a lot of novels out there like this but unfortunately I haven't come across one quite as good as this before.
I can honestly say that this book kept me on the edge of my seat from about half way in as I really did not know what the end of the story would be, unlike some where you can easily predict it.
*Would I Recommend This Book?*
I most certainly would recommend Three Weeks To Say Goodbye by CJ Box. It was a thrilling read full of emotion and drama as well as twists and turns which keep you guessing until the very last page. At no point did I guess the outcome of the story which made the book a very exciting and enjoyable read. It is the perfect book for you to take on holiday and read by the side of the pool or beach because it isn't difficult to get into and won't require too much concentration but try and put it down. I dare you!
My recommendations if you are looking for a similar back to this are:
- Blue Heaven by CJ Box
- The Devil's Teardrop by Jeffery Deaver
- No Time For Goodbye by Linwood Barclay
Three Weeks To Say Goodbye was the first book of CJ Box that I have read but it certainly will not be the last. I enjoyed reading it so much that I have now bought the first three books that he released from amazon to enjoy. It was fast-paced and full of drama with a few great characters added to the mix. A thrilling and easy read full of suspense, action and some violence thrown into the mix too.
You can buy the hardback version of this book from www.amazon.co.uk for £6.50. A fairly reasonable price although you may want to consider borrowing it from your library.
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: Corvus (1st December 2009)