Saturday, January 29, 2011

Book Club- Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes



The January book club pick was Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. Participants read the novel and chose one or more discussion questions from the back of the book to address in a blog post. This month's host is Lydia from The Overweight Bookshelf. To join our discussion, link up your post at her website.

This book club discussion is courtesy of contributor Serena Chase:


Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes is one of those rare novels – a book that gouges itself into your heart so completely – and in so many different ways – that you ache with the desire to put it down, but can’t seem to rip yourself away. If you finally do manage to pull yourself away (you must, after all, sleep!) you hesitate to pick the novel back up because you’re not sure you have anything left in your emotional reserves to give.

But you can’t stay away forever. The story is too compelling – too rich -- and the characters are too vulnerable and all too real to dismiss because of your own fear and weakness. So you pick up the book, cuddle up with your tissues, and dive back into Gina Holmes’s amazing debut.


The Sitch:
Jenny Lucas left home when her unexpected pregnancy became the insurmountable obstacle in her already tense relationship with her father. Almost six years later Jenny is forced to go back home and face not only her father, but David Preston, the high school sweetheart who rejected Jenny before he even knew she carried his child. As love and tragedy chase the Lucas family anew Jenny must decide what is best for her daughter – even if what is best for her child ends up breaking her own heart.

How it hit me: Like a cannon loaded with onions. (In other words, I cried a lot and felt, at times, like my chest was going to cave in.)

Something gleaned from the Book Club Discussion: For those of you who have not read this book yet, I tried to pick a question that wouldn’t require a spoiler alert. Here it is:

When David (Jenny’s first love/Isabella’s father) comes to pick up Isabella, he stops in the driveway and honks as he used to when he and Jenny were dating. Jenny tells us, “For the first time, I understood why the gesture used to infuriate my father.” What are some things you see differently as a parent, or simply as an adult, than you did as a child?

The honking Jenny once found to be an endearing announcement of her love’s arrival now reveals David’s lack of courtesy. In the eyes of a grown-up it is not evidence of “coolness” – rather, it is informative to David’s character in a less positive way. David believes he is the center of the universe and the honking is just a symptom of his expectation that when David Preston says, “Jump.” the world should respond with a collective “How high?”

As an adult I think we tend to more easily see through those mannerisms and behaviors we might have once interpreted as “cool.” With a more mature eye we are able to identify disrespect and discourtesy for what they really are: selfishness and insecurity. As a parent, I want more for my daughter than a self-centered ego maniac who expects her to cater to his schedule and whim. If he lacks the courtesy to even come up to the house, how will he respect her otherwise?

A lot of authors and screenwriters have tried to portray this sort of character by keeping them fixated on reliving their “glory days”, but in Crossing Oceans, Gina Holmes portrays that “cool kid” who never matured past adolescent self-centeredness in a fresh, more believable way.

To read or not to read; that is the question: Well, duh. Read it. JUST READ IT, ALREADY!!!!

This is a fantastic book. Gina Holmes has firmly snagged a spot on my list of favorite authors. BUT (and there’s almost always a “but”, isn’t there?) I must add a warning to my hearty recommendation: if you’re looking for a light romance or a humor-ridden tale, this is not the book for you. Though it has its lighter moments, Crossing Oceans is the kind of novel which requires a personal investment of emotion. And if you have experienced the loss of a loved one recently, do be prepared to relive some of those emotions.

But that is, in part, why we read, isn’t it? To know that, in our darkest moments, we are not alone.

And finally, in the words of Inigo Montoya, “No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” Gina Holmes’s debut novel will take your emotions to the breaking point -- but leave your heart open and changed by the splendor and hope within. Crossing Oceans is a beautiful and unique coming-of-age story that should not be missed.

Serena's rating:

10 comments:

  1. Serena!!!

    Awesome review. Wow. Sounds like this book is gut wrenching...powerful! And I love how you worked in a Princess Bride reference. :)

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  2. I enjoyed your review, Serena! I avoided the whole how-to-return-to-the-novel scenario by reading the book in one sitting on a snow day. But the story stayed with me long after that. I couldn't help but think about what choices I'd be making if faced with some of the same game-changers as Jenny. It's a powerful story!

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  3. I like your point about the lack of courtesy.

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  4. Lovely!! I thought this book was one of the best Cf's Ive read in a long time. I have to get my answers up soon....:D

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  5. This was a terrific review!
    Isn't it funny how we see things so differently as parents? I remember Dad complaining about us saying "Yeah" he would always correct us with "Yes" and now I find myself doing that to the kids. How different we become!

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  6. I was so blown away when I realized this was Gina's debut novel. If she can wring this kind of emotion out of us as a beginner, we'll need TWO boxes of Kleenex for the next book!

    I am new to your line up and thank you for inviting me to participate.

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  7. Thanks for popping in everyone! Quilly, I'm so glad you were able to join us. Tina, I'll be looking for your review.

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  8. "Like a canon ball full of onions"!! LOL. That is absolutely perfect. I don't think there is a better illustration to portray the physical reaction that this book pulls out of you. Also, your analysis of David is spot on.

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  9. Thanks for all the nice comments! I hope the BC reviews bring more readers to this novel -- and I hope our collective emotions recover before the next Gina Holmes title comes out!

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I love comments more than Starbucks! Thanks for leaving one!

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