Monday, December 26, 2016

Games of Make-Believe by Susan Wambach

Games of Make-Believe
by Julie Ann Wambach

My rating: 3.5 stars

Publisher: Brookside Press (November 21, 2016)
Publication Date: November 21, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Women's Fiction
Print Length: 223 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 
Amidst the 1960-1990 Phoenix transformation, the Prince family struggles to create what we now call a “blended family” before they had ever heard the term. When a prosperous gentleman convinces her to marry him, Bella’s arduous existence suddenly holds the promise of enchantment. Thus begins twenty-eight stories, some in the style of a romantic fairytale, others of a comedy or a tragedy. Together, the stories explore the role of make-believe in a dysfunctional stepfamily trying to make sense of their lives in the changing community around them.

At the center of the family discord is the daughter who Bella’s husband brings into the marriage. Renata immediately rejects her new stepmother and two stepsisters. As an adult survivor of child abuse, Bella struggles to create a convincing self-identity within her new husband’s affluent world. Her take-charge approach to running the family convinces others, but not herself. In an effort to make sense of it all, Bella latches onto a series of religions and pop psychologies, while her husband wholly devotes himself to the intense competition surrounding his flourishing home development business.  

 
 Games of Make-Believe by Susan Wambaugh

Games of Make-BelieveSusan Wambach’s GAMES OF MAKE-BELIEVE follows Bella’s life, its changes and the trials she undergoes. After a “Cinderella-type” upbringing where she was the hard-working, abused stepchild and a failed marriage where, once again, she was the emotionally and mentally abused party, Bella is working hard to become her own hero, as well as the hero to her two daughters. Her faith is strong, she has a bright, almost giddy outlook on life and finally, life shine son her when she meets a financially successful man who, while not a dashing knight in shining armor, he is a good man who does all he can to fit into the world she has created for herself and her daughters. The problem is his daughter, a surly teen who has no idea what is truly important in life.

This is their story, a story of struggle, confusion, faith and love as two family fragments blend together to try to create a new family unit with enough love to share for all. There are no superheroes, no magical cures for family issues, no single moment when everything starts coming up roses. This is a struggle to hold a marriage together against the odds in a contemporary and non-traditional union.

No character shines with a crisp personality because this feels like reality of everyday, normal humans, dealing the best they can. I had moments of not knowing if Bella really did have reality issues or when she seemed clueless to what was going on around her. Her children were refreshingly polite and well-spoken and her new husband may have discovered mistakes form his first marriage and seems determined not to make them again.

Overall, a comfortable read that ran on a fairly even track where problems were worked out with minimum angst, except for the stepdaughter whose concerns may have been a figment of her imagination, but they did torment her completely. A wonderful Women's Fiction read when an even keel read is just what you need.

I received this copy from Julie Ann Wambach in exchange for my honest review.


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