Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement, and one that I have yet to make. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of Vonda Norwood’s Facebook breaks up marriages.lol, a social media comedic romance which I finished reading last night.
Characters: The protagonist and first-person narrator is Liz Peebles, a mystery-romance writer in Riverside, Calif., coping with a failed marriage and a case of the middle-aged crazies. The other main character is Kenny Newsome, a divorced engineer in the Navy, based out of Florida, whom Liz obsesses over in a tantalizing but mostly unsatisfying Facebook correspondence. Other characters include Liz’s cheating husband, her four daughters, brother Tom and childhood pals Johnny and George, but none of these are fully-developed and serve mostly to help establish the story’s background.
Plot: A chance reference to Kenny by Liz’s brother Tom reminds Liz of the relationship she might have had, but never did with Kenny back in high school — even though she found him attractive. Now, in the midst of trying emotional times, Liz tracks Kenny down via Facebook to find that Kenny remembers her. The heart of Facebook breaks up marriages.lol is the series of Facebook exchanges that define Liz’s and Kenny’s growing relationship.
Setting: Setting is not well-defined, other than being in Riverside. Back-story which took place in high school is established through Liz’s narration, but I don’t believe the school is ever named or described. The best parts of the book are simply set on Facebook.
What I thought could’ve been done better: Facebook breaks up marriages.lol has too many grammar and wrong-word errors in it — especially for a story narrated by a character who is a professional writer. For instance, early in the book, Liz searches on-line yearbooks for a photo of Kenny and finds a photo she likes of some high school football players, though, alas, Kenny is not among them:
Seeing them wasn’t a consultation to not finding my Kenny, but it still did give me a nice feeling.
The word should be “consolation.” There are more, and they are distracting, but it’s nothing a good proofreading couldn’t fix, relatively quickly.
The story also needs more showing and less telling. Liz tells us about her lazy, cheating husband, but he doesn’t interact with Liz, and in fact, we never even learn his name. Same with her two daughters (two others are away at college). Liz tells how she took her daughters out shopping, and then to a Greek restaurant, and she tells us how she then explained about her impending divorce — all of which if shown, with dialogue and description, could have given the story more depth.
The dramatic bones are all there — they just need to be fleshed out with color, sound and action.
What I thought was good: Liz’s wild, unpredictable mood swings from ecstasy to anger to despair over the often cryptic and uncommunicative Facebook responses from Kenny make her a fascinating character to follow. Her narration shouts with energy and broad humor:
Saying goodbye to Kenny gave me a great feeling of self-empowerment and I was ready to clean house! No more puttin up with a lazy-ass hubby who could care less about anything other than the T.V.! Time to go buddy!!
Her account of what happened during a rare bout with booze is lurid – I love lurid:
I laughed like the drunken, crazed, foolish, middle-aged under-sexed woman that I was. “Send me a pic…” I sent the booby pic to him via his thighsandallforyou email and in the e-mail I wrote, “So I’ll just be hanging…”
I really enjoyed the slightly demented, almost stream-of-consciousness, totally uninhibited energy of the story. Also appreciated Vonda’s shout-out to the Navy, being a retired Chief myself.
Overall: So who writes a perfect book? Despite its rough edges, Facebook breaks up marriages.lol is a fun read. It illustrates in comic, often manic detail the profound effect social media can have on our lives. Liz Peebles is a wild character who I’ll think of from now on, whenever I spend time on Facebook. Good job, Vonda!
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