The Burning Jacket
Dancing Moon Press (2010)
Reviewed by Marcy Blesy for Reader Views (05/10)
“The Burning Jacket” by Nel Rand is the fictional story of three female family members and how their lives intersect with one another. Tooley is the grandmother, a nature loving woman who shuns the modern amenities of the day in favor of simpler, peaceful living. Molly, her daughter, embraces the modern world more than her mother, often causing them to misunderstand each other over the years. Raynie, Molly’s daughter, is a preteen girl who is more inclined to appreciate her grandmother Tooley than her own mother ever was. There are difficult times in their lives. Tooley recalls a challenged childhood. Molly experiences an ugly divorce, and Raynie is caught in the middle of her parents. She also befriends an Indian girl whose family forms negative opinions about America. The story is set against the backdrop of 9/11.
The burning jacket plays an important role in the story, uniting the women in a journey that takes them to the end of Tooley’s life.
Rand is a storyteller. She places much emphasis on description and detail, much like how I imagine her character Tooley telling stories to Raynie. While many readers will appreciate the flow of the storytelling, personally I found myself wandering. I understood the point without so many words. Also, there were times when the action was quite good (scenes with the ex-husband, for example). However, just when something started to happen, I was drawn back into the storytelling style of the author that left me disappointed at times.
I’m not sure Molly’s illness needed to be a part of the story. She shows her strength in other ways, such as how she deals with her ex-husband. I didn’t find that part of the storyline necessary to advance the plot.
The characters are endearing, however. I love the connection between Tooley and Raynie. We should all be so lucky to share the wisdom of an elderly person in our life. Rand did a nice job painting the picture of an eccentric, yet charming character.
“The Burning Jacket” by Nel Rand is well written. The style of storytelling is a personal preference.