Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Art Of My Life by Ann Lee Miller

We met Cal and Aly in KICKING ETERNITY, this is their story. Cal is just being released from a 3 month stint in jail where he was serving a sentence for carrying marijuana. Taking the rap for his grandparents, Cal neglects to tell anyone that detail. After all, Cal can do no right in his mother's eyes anyway so why bother sharing.

When his grandparents give him their boat Cal hopes to open a charter business. In order to get the boat in working order though he is in need of a bank loan. Aly is now working as a loan officer in the local bank. Taking a chance on Cal, Aly grants him the loan. Cal finds that he needs more from Aly than just a loan. One of Aly's dreams has been to own her own business before she was 25. Cal convinces Aly to quit her job and go in the charter business with him.

Cal and Aly have always been attracted to each other. But both have goals they want to reach before they act on that attraction. Cal still suffers from the idea that he can never measure up to his mother's expectations, he gives up on ideas and relationships too easily. Aly suffers from abandonment issues and the consequences of bad choices. Will the two of them be able to work together as friends and begin healing their wounded lives?

THE ART OF MY LIFE deals with so many issues. There is addiction, there is guilt, there is insecurity, there is anger, there is friendship, there is love, there is misunderstanding and there is forgiveness and restoration. Let me see if I can explain those a little better:

Addiction: Cal is addicted to pot. He uses it when life overwhelms him. He doesn't think he has a problem, but it really is the root of all of his relationship issues.

Guilt: Aly has slept around. There are consequences to that behavior.

Insecurity: Both Cal and Aly are insecure people. They have been hurt by others and have acted out in their own ways to combat that hurt. Branching out, even Cal's mother experiences insecurity in that the way she behaves has been dictated by her desire to look well in front of others.

Anger: Fish is Cal's best friend. He's dealing with anger at his family for leaving him, and Cal for stashing his pot in Fish's locker that could ruin Fish's chances in the political arena he has dreamed about.

Friendship: Fish finds that you can't turn off a lifelong friendship even if you want to. Cal and Aly's friendship has lasted as well, always there for each other.

Love: Uh oh, Fish finally notices Cal's younger sister Missy! Sparks fly between the two of them. Cal and Aly have always loved each other, they have just taken a round about way getting there. And then there is the love of parents for their children.

Misunderstanding: So many of the characters feelings are hidden from each other that assumptions are made. Those misunderstandings lead to more hurt and heartache.

Forgiveness: Friendships cannot be mended without forgiveness. Cal's relationship with his mother cannot be mended without forgiveness. Aly and Cal's relationship cannot be mended without forgiveness. Forgiveness brings freedom and I think the characters find that out in their relationships.

Restoration: Restored relationships are definitely a product of forgiveness.

So what did I think about The Art Of My Life? I liked it. The angst between characters was true to life. The feelings and emotions seemed real and well written. Would I consider this a Christian novel? Not necessarily. While there are elements of faith in the book, and God is mentioned a couple of times there really is no foundation of faith throughout. The characters stumble about, and cry out to God now and then when things get bad, but God is not the central theme of the characters lives. Is that a bad thing for the book? Maybe. If the book is marketed as a Christian book then yes, I would have definite issues with the content. There is drug use, sensuality and profanity. If the book is marketed as a more secular book then no it isn't a bad thing. The book shows the reality and consequences of bad choices we make, but it also shows the beauty of forgiveness and the restoration of relationships. I enjoyed the characters, I was invested in their hurts and triumphs.

**Warning** There is some strong profanity in the book(including the use of the "f" word once) and may not be appropriate for a reader if they are adverse to the use of profanity in their reading material. The author warned me beforehand of the use of profanity so I was prepared. I'm not here to argue about the rightness or wrongness of profanity in writing, but because most of the material I read is "clean" I always put the warning.

Check out my review of other books by Ann Lee Miller:

Avra's God
Kicking Eternity

**I received my copy from the author for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own**

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