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Monday, December 05, 2011

My review of Play it Again by Tracy Krauss

About the book:

Sparks fly when an ex-rock and roll junkie and a stuffy accountant rendezvous at a local resort, but neither are prepared for the emotional entanglements, family complications, and threat from the past that unexpectedly resurfaces. Set in the 1980s, this story brings two opposing forces together in a clash of romance and danger, while its musical undertones highlight the theme that God can turn anything into beautiful music. Play It Again is the much anticipated prequel to Tracy's debut novel And the Beat Goes On. Find out where Mark Graham's journey began in this, the story of his parents. About the Author: Tracy Krauss is a high school teacher by profession, and a prolific author, artist, playwright and director by choice. She received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Saskatchewan and has gone on to teach Art, Drama and English - all the things she is passionate about. After raising four children, she and her husband now reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC, Canada, where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests.

My review:

This is one best comtemporary novels I've read all year. I started reading this book yesterday and read until I had to go to bed last night, then finished it this morning. For me, this is the kind of novel that is very hard to put down. I read into the wee hours. I didn't want to sleep and just wanted to read this book. The tension kept building and building. While some elements of the story are common to romance novels, the author did such a great job putting the elements together and making it compelling. The setting, characters, and dialog brought me back to the 1980s, and parts of the story felt like they could have come from my life. 

The dialog was convincing and realistic. I knew some guys who were just like the bunch of band members Deanie hung out with. Is that crazy, or what? Her mentality was pretty 80s, too. I loved how she called it like she saw it. I also loved how the author strung me along until I couldn't see straight. I was so emotionally caught up in this book that I forgot I was reading. I wanted to crawl into the novel a few times and shake some sense in to Russ. At the same time I understood his fear. When you feel so strongly about someone that it terrifies you, well, you do some pretty stupid things sometimes to spare yourself further hurt. Ironically that very wall of protection often causes more hurt, rather than blocking it out. Great illustration of this in Russ and Deanie's relationship.

For me this was the perfect novel for a number of reasons. Not only was it well-written, but it was edgy in that the story dared to be honest. I loved that. The characters thought like people actually think in those unfortunate situations they found themselves in, and not like people--especially Christians--want them to think. I believe that sometimes we, as Christians, forget that we are sinful people in need of a savior and no matter how good we think we are, we're not good enough without Jesus. And even then, it's all about Him and not about us. I remember what my life was like before I became a Christian in the mid 1980s, and it wasn't pretty. But most of the heartache I had caused myself. 

I loved Deanie's relationship with Mark, and Russ's conflict about Rita. Those scenarios were very well done. They played out like real life. Russ's mistrust and jealousy were not totally misplaced, nor was the band's overprotectiveness of Deanie. The author set up the situations so they made total sense, rather than feeling contrived. The faith element also felt natural and real to me. There were no easy conversions, and the way the characters saw Christianity when they were standing on the outside looking in rang true to me. When people get a taste of what it's really like to have a saving relationship with Christ, it's compelling.

There was nothing sappy about this novel. People who have no faith in Jesus may not "get" it, but I can see this touching a lot of people who have thought about God but have been afraid to move forward. In fact, it reminded me of just how much people need to know Jesus and that He can and does change hearts. Heart-wrenching, and yet beautifully written. This story will stick with me for a long time. It's making my best fiction list for 2011!

Play it Again was published by Strategic Publishing and released in Nov. 2011.


Ebook Men said...

Great review. I really admire you.

Tracy Krauss said...

Thanks for the great review Michelle. I appreciate it and I'm glad that you enjoyed the book.

April Gardner said...

Wonderful review, Michelle! Tracy is a talented writer and sweet person, to boot.

Tom Blubaugh said...

Super review, Michelle.


Tom Blubaugh

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