Title: Notes from a Spinning Planet: Ireland
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: WaterBrook Press 2006
It’s pretty humiliating to admit, but I’ve never flown in a plane before today. So wouldn’t you think that I’d be feeling pretty jazzed right now? Instead I keep grabbing onto these armrests as I ask myself why on earth I ever agreed to come on this frightening trip.… Affectionately teased as a “country bumpkin,” nineteen year-old Maddie has never been one to explore new territory. Her first trip outside of the country with her Aunt Sid and Sid’s godson, Ryan, promises an exhilarating adventure. Northern Ireland is more captivating than she even imagined–and Ryan is offering plenty of intrigue himself.
As Aunt Sid researches peace camps, Maddie and Ryan explore Ireland’s rich landscape. During the journey, Maddie begins to discover more about what she wants from life, while developing a deeper friendship with her irresistible traveling companion.
When Maddie and Ryan dig for the truth about the IRA car bomb that killed Ryan’s father years ago, questions about the past accumulate. Unable to let go of growing suspicions in this mysterious country, Maddie finds herself on a dangerous journey, a journey that will lead her to the greatest discovery of all.
I ran into a huge setback today in Notes from a Spinning Planet: Ireland. I picked this and the two sequels (Mexico and Papua New Guinea) thinking they would be an interesting "See the world" type of book. I found many problems with the book and quit 60 pages in.
- The book is written in a first person journaling style. It got a bit annoying when it switched from a journal style to an almost 3rd person retelling, but happening currently events. Does that make sense? Every time it changed, I had to rethink how to read the book.
- The main character was annoying. Maddie has been asked by her Aunt Sid to travel to Ireland for a research project. She tells us right off that she's never been "off the farm" (literally in her case). Okay, I get it, she's new to this whole traveling thing, but the culture mistakes and intolerance annoyed the crap out of me. Don't go to another country unless you really want to learn about and experience the culture. In fact, before you go, read some guide books, prepare yourself to their way of life. If you don't, you're not appreciating the peoples. End of rant.
- The Christian angle was baffling. Is this a book about Maddie refinding Christ? Is this a book about her witnessing to others? I couldn't tell. Maybe this was cleared up later, but I had absolutely no clue in the first fourth of the book.
- Beer. The entire third and fourth chapters Maddie's fixates on the fact that Ryan, Aunt Sid's godson, is having a pint. She even makes nasty comments to him about it and then mentions to him that she thinks that all Christians should not drink. I know some Christians do not drink, but her reasoning was that "Jesus didn't drink." Ryan mentions the fact that Jesus and his disciples drank wine, to which she replies "I heard it was more like grape juice." Her ignorance and naiveté really got me. How did this girl live at all before now? Fine it's her issue, but do I have to read about her whiny thoughts about beer throughout two chapters?
- My last problem has to do with the targeted audience. What age group was the book written for? The library shelved it in Reader's Services (adult fiction), yet it read like a teen novel. Looking at the back of the book, the book is listed as "Fiction/Young Adult." Well that explains it. The book should be shelved in the Young Adult section.
Maybe this book would appeal to me if I was 13. As I am 29, I felt very over this type of coming of age story. Maddie was too naive and intolerant for my tastes. Therefore, I put it down after 60 pages. I'm going to try another book by Melody Carlson, one that was written for adult audiences (I double checked it!).
Notes from a Spinning Planet
- #1 Ireland
- #2 Papua New Guinea
- #3 Mexico