Review: Caught in the Winds by L.D. Wenzel

caught in the winds book coverPublisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 9781453647875
Pages: 330
Format: Paperback
Rating: 2
Age recommendation: Young adult, adult

Morrie Schiller is in Bethlehem College under the orders of his parents. Journalism is his interest, but he is forced to major in psychology instead. That is not the end of his problem. On the first day, he becomes infatuated with a girl who ends up using him again and again. He also wants to become a Roman Catholic, something that shocks all he confides this to. Then, one day, he meets Jack Joplin. Jack brings with him a strange philosophy that holds lofty promises. Morrie finds himself inexplicably drawn and caught in the web of Jack’s talk and ways. Soon, Jack brings him onto a dream-like journey transcending reality and into the supernatural.

Review

This isn’t a raving review, but I’ll be doing my best not to be overly negative. The main reason why I couldn’t like Caught in the Winds is because many aspects seemed unrealistic. Something that immediately caught hold of my attention when I started on the book was the conversations. They were full, polite conversations and that made me want to shake the primness in the characters away.

Morrie’s longings to be a Catholic was strange, but faintly interesting. I’ve never encountered anyone with a longing to be a Catholic, more so with a vague reason. When his longings to become a Catholic was first mentioned in-depth, it seemed as if it stemmed from guilt. I read on, and as more of his Catholic longings were mentioned, I got confused as to the real reason behind his longing to be a Catholic. Was it because of a dream? Or because of guilt?

The first “romance” in Caught in the Winds is Morrie’s infatuation with Tracy (I’m putting romance in “” because I don’t think infatuation is in the romance category). I thought the whole thing was a farce and cringe-worthy. Many times, they behaved like a pair of teenagers with childish tendencies, rather than college students. Just the way Morrie fell for Tracy spoke volumes of his maturity. Morrie is the most immature character I’ve ever read in any book. This sounds harsh, but I got annoyed with his behavior less than 20 pages into the book.

I thought that it didn’t make sense the way Morrie shared personal details with Crusader almost immediately after meeting him for the first time. No one talks about their love interest and struggles to a person they have known for less than 15 minutes! How more unreal can an encounter be?

The author had told me that this is an unusual book in the Christian genre (not his exact words, I’m paraphrasing), but I wasn’t prepared with the way Protestants were portrayed. Denominations were highlighted. Protestant characters held those from other denominations in abhorrence. Most of the Protestant characters were either radicals, non-stop talkers about religious stuff, or they were drifting (on the verge of drifting for some) off-course from Christianity. I’m mentioning this here because I think that some Protestants will be offended by this (I did not take too kindly to this aspect myself). I really wished there was a Protestant character on the middle ground, which is where most of us are.

I’ve just listed a few points I noted here. I don’t want to drag Caught in the Winds in the mud anymore than I’ve done through this negative review. I wanted to like the book, but I just couldn’t. It’s difficult to like the book when the story and characters did not connect with me and seemed very unrealistic most of the time. How someone could be drawn into Jack’s play, I do not know and that puzzled me most of the book.

Morrie’s exploration and efforts to find himself made an interesting theme for a coming of age book. I was relieved when he had more maturity at the end of the book. Actually, the ending was okay, better than I had expected it to be. One thing, it definitely made me very interested to know what happened to Morrie when he faced his parents.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted on December 22, 2011, in Book Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I didn’t like that book too much either, and I guess the negative points I highlight in my review complement yours! : http://wordsandpeace.com/2011/09/01/review-66-caught-in-the-winds/. I’m not much more careful before accepting any book to review from the author directly

    • Hi, I’m going to read your review after I post this comment. I accept quite a number of books from authors. Some are good, some aren’t very good. I don’t find myself having any qualms accepting books directly from authors even when I don’t find a certain book to my tastes. Of course, I usually prefer accepting books through PRs or publishers. 🙂 Will leave a comment at your review. Thanks for commenting here.

  2. To Sugar peach blog:

    Reply from author L.D. Wenzel
    I hope it is appropriate for me to comment on this blog. I will try to be brief.
    First of all, thank you for reading and reviewing my novel, even though results were not so favorable for me. I did find your take very interesting, and I can see you put a lot of thought into your piece. You are quite right in discerning the extreme immaturity of the Morrie, the main character. For him the eruption of his life-long suppressed sexuality was a disaster –and a nightmare for this young Christian. For the outsider it can seem completely over the top. But, believe me, the problem does happen in this environment.

    Still, I do take your review seriously. I must admit I am taken aback on how repulsive Morrie’s immaturity is to you, if I understand you correctly. This is true especially since another woman blogger recently had very same reaction. Morries’ ineptitude seems to define the entire novel for you. I meant for Morrie’s situation to be just a backdrop for many other things I wished to discuss. My intention was that the reader was to sympathize with Morrie—despite himself, enter his world, so as that one could share his more mature insights toward the end. Most reader reaction (male and female) seem to get this. Obviously, there are some who don’t. This unexpected development makes me wonder if there are things going on that I don’t see. Has it to do with gender? I don’t know.

    I was heartened that things got better for you by the end of the novel as Morrie matures. You said in the end: “One thing, it definitely made me very interested to know what happened to Morrie when he faced his parents.” This was an odd comment from someone who didn’t like my novel, but thanks anyway.

    You wondered to another blogger what someone more familiar to the American scene might think. The following is a link to another who has reviewed my novel. She has a Masters in Theology (M.Div.) I include it also because your blog-readers might find another perspective interesting:

    (Summary Quote): “Those of us who have been on an American college campus in the recent past may find some of the minor details a bit dated – don’t let that trip you up. I found the characters interesting and believable – and when you get to the point in the book where things really take off, you’ll know it. That’s when you won’t be able to put it down. And the best part is that it wasn’t just entertainment – it really named some issues for me that I don’t think I had ever named so succinctly, even after an M.Div. These topics won’t interest everyone, but if they do, you know who you are. Wenzel has written an unassuming, quietly profound coming-of-age book that was a delight to discover and share.”

    (Read the entire post with all view points at her blog: http://splitseedreview.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/weary-of-the-conservativeliberal-religious-rhetoric-read-l-d-wenzels-caught-in-the-winds/

    Finally, your blog-readers can decide for themselves by DOWNLOADING THE FIRST SIX CHAPTERS FOR FREE!! Go to my blog: Challenging Religious Fiction at http://www.challengingreligiousfiction.com/my-novel/
    Best wishes

    • I welcome all comments made by authors! 🙂 I love receiving them. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      I think that one of the reason why I found Morrie’s behavior repulsive is because as a woman, I want strong, mature male characters. Immature behavior, especially when shown by men, is always a major turn-off point for me. Maturity is always a big deciding factor in my relationships, and I couldn’t quite “imagine” or figure how someone could be on the same level with a partner without having the superior “push” because of the partner’s lack of maturity. (I know I’m not making much sense here as I’m finding it hard to explain this 🙂 )

      On one hand, I have a feeling that Morrie’s parents would throw him out of the house, but on the other hand, I think there might be some redemption. I think that Morrie is brave to go back and face his parents. That’s one sign he did mature in the book. This is the reason why I’m curious as to his parent’s reactions.

      Thank you for the review link. I’ll be reading the review after posting this comment.

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