Wednesday, September 06, 2006

JADE by Marilynn Griffith

JADE (Shades of Style, book #2) by Marilynn Griffith

From the back cover:

HAVING THE PERFECT LIFE ISN'T ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE.

Designer Lily Chau doesn't know if she's finally got it together or if life is starting to unravel. With a successful boyfriend and a great job at up-and-coming fashion house Garments of Praise, it seems she has the perfect pattern for success. But her mother's health is failing, her boyfriend just won't pop the question, and being a pattern maker is a far cry from having a clothing line of her own. Lily is sure her hands are just too full to draw her deepest dreams.

Raya and Chenille, Lily's pals at Garments of Praise, offer plenty of advice and sympathy. And Jean, Lily's co-worker and second mom, even goes behind Lily's back to boost her chances of success. When she's chosen for the reality show The Next Design Diva, it seems like the chance of a lifetime for Lily. But the mysterious designer chosen to mentor her sends her spinning. He's fresh, fine--and way off limits. Suddenly Lily's life goes from carefully patterned to nothing but a tangle of threads.

Camy here:

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t as familiar with the African American culture in PINK, but I feel closer to the main character of JADE—and it’s not because she's Asian. It’s because I relate to her personality more. The storyline and the writing of JADE also seems more romantic to me than PINK. I enjoyed the love story a great deal.

I liked how the protagonists are older. Their mindsets are different than the protagonists of PINK, giving a slightly different tone to the story. The maturity of their concerns and emotions will appeal to older women versus ones in their teens and 20’s.

The author wrote with clarity and compassion about the background and prejudices Lily and her mother experienced as first and second generation Chinese. They’re things that will resonate with many other first and second generation Americans, regardless of ethnicity. No matter where they come from, people who immigrate to America from other countries face some things that other Americans don’t experience, and this book brought some of that to life in a gentle, non-political, non-threatening way.

I think that many women will relate to Lily’s trials with her aging mother suffering from dementia. It brought back the struggles my mom had with her mother-in-law, and with the difficulties my aunt had with her mother. The author doesn’t go into detail, but she brings the emotion to the forefront—I really felt Lily’s tiredness, stress, and sense of being overwhelmed.

I didn’t quite think Lily always reacted the way I would as a single woman who desires to be married. Despite the other factors in her life, once in a while she said or did something that made me stop and question if she really did want to be married, that made me wonder if I was really relating to her struggle with her singleness, because it wasn’t always in line with my own experiences.

On a whole, though, the romance in this story is both hot and spiritual, if there is such a thing. LOL. I really enjoyed seeing how Lily and Doug were thrown together. Their chemistry sizzled on the page.

Doug’s variegated background—a missionary kid who grew up in Asia and knows Chinese, a medical doctor who hasn’t practiced in a while, a once-famous clothing designer, a missionary who understands African languages—was a little hard for me to buy. Can one person really have all these hats on one head?

But it’s fiction, and it made him one of the most interesting characters I’ve read in a long time. I really loved Doug as the male protagonist in this story. The author paints him with color and flair and yet also with subtle nuance to make him real and not flashy. He stood out for me, moreso than Flex did in PINK.

The prose is like poetry. It flows like Lily’s water fountain, movement over rock-solid faith. The author’s voice is strong and one of the most unique writers’ voices I’ve read.

Both women’s fiction readers and romance addicts will like this story. I think that older readers will relate to Lily’s struggles more, whereas teens and 20-somethings might not quite be able to step into Lily’s skin as she deals with the issues uniquely facing a single woman in her late 30s.

I can’t wait for Jean’s story!

2 comments :

  1. Great reviews, Camy! You are totally putting me to shame with your ability to churn out these awesome write-ups! I hope to finish my review of RELUCTANT BURGLAR tonight, so keep your fingers crossed (but don't hold your breath, LOL!). *wink*

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  2. I can relate to some of the immigrant issues though after I'd gone through school they no longer made such a difference. I guess my issues were less ethnic-related than they were related to my Christian upbringing.

    I can definitely relate to the dementia/Alzheimer's issue. At first I thought I was going crazy with all the weird things my mother was doing and saying. It got so bad that I couldn't do my job anymore and my own illness was intensified as I tried to deal with my mother's illness. In a way, I think her doctor should have said something to me a lot earlier about her problems. At times I truly believed I'd gone totally of my rocker. It wasn't until my sister-in-law's 3 doctor relatives saw my mother's behavior at a family get-together that *they* decided that something needed to be done and one of them had enough pull to get my mother examined immediately. Although my mother had a lot of confidence in her doctor, and he probably was good, I've never trusted doctors completely who'd give me some medication and say "I know this will help you." The medication in question the only time I went to see him because I had no other doctor was one I'd been taking for a few years in Germany already. It had finally made it to Canada about the time I got back from 10 years in Germany. The medication hadn't been much help in Germany and it wasn't any better in Canada. The power of positive thinking only works... Well, maybe it works when you haven't taken medication after medication with little or no sign of improvement.

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