“Beautiful Mess” by John Herrick


John Herrick
Segue Blue (2017)
ISBN 9780991530960
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (11/17)

Going into “Beautiful Mess” by John Herrick, it was hard to figure out just where he was taking this novel.  While the detailing was sharp from the beginning, the story itself, and the main character of Delbert (Del) Corwyn, felt very shallow for about the first 100 pages.  I came to discover, however, that this was more of a characterization technique rather than a content issue.  As Del, at 78 years of age, realized more about what was truly important in his life, his character and the plot deepened considerably.

Herrick seems to have hidden a couple different themes within the pages of “Beautiful Mess.”  His most fervent message to readers was that no matter whether you are 25 or 78, you never lose the opportunity to better your life or yourself.  In the beginning Del was focused on the materialistic aspects of his life, which come into danger when his accountant tells him that he is about to go bankrupt.  As Del’s relationship with Nora becomes more fatherly however, and as he finds a wholesome love with Pastor Felicia Whitby, he realizes that it is not the things that he has accumulated that are the most important, but the people he loves and the ways in which he shows that to them.

One of my favorite quotes from the novel is a piece of advice Felicia gives Del when he’s telling her about how, despite the bombshell of re-discovering his Marilyn Monroe script, and the possible resurgence of his career, his life feels emptier than ever: “Love is outbound, Del.  It’s a matter of valuing the other person for who they are, not what they can do for you.” Del was so used to the Hollywood lifestyle of materialistic, shallow relationships that he forgot what love really was.

Herrick’s writing style is perfect for the genre and pacing of the novel.  “Beautiful Mess” has prose that is light and easy to read, yet filled with deeper meanings and significance for the audience to perceive.  The book is geared toward a general adult audience, and I believe it would be received well with both young and middle-aged adults.

“Beautiful Mess” ended up taking me by surprise with the depth John Herrick achieved in the writing.  Going into the first hundred pages I believed that I was not going to be a big fan, but I ended up enjoying it thoroughly. The book itself captured an important quality that Del seemed to overlook for the majority of his lifestyle: to not judge people solely on their appearance and material value, but to appreciate them for who they are.

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