Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Review: Merit Badges by Kevin Fenton

TITLE: Merit Badges
(Currently available in the Library of Justice!! As of 10/21/12!

AUTHOR: Kevin Fenton

STARS: ***** (5)

From Goodreads:

"Follow four friends as they move from The Brady Bunch to Seinfeld, from junior high to middle management. There is Quint, whose rebellion frays into self-destruction; Slow, who struggles to become the world's first teenage father figure; Chimes, who fears losing his friends while picking up a 7-10 split; and Barb who escapes the conformity of Minnisapa only to find herself returning by dark of night. You will feel as if you've always lived in Minnisapa, Minnesota. And you will never underestimate nice kids from the Midwest again."

Kevin Fenton is a St. Paul author...and his novel takes place in fictional "Minnisapa, Minnesota." The book follows a group of friends through their lives, with each chapter telling the experiences of one of the characters, moving forward in time chronologically. By the time you get back around to a particular character, time has passed...and you have to suss out how their lives have changed in the interim.

I appreciated how the book wasn't exactly linear...that by the time the story returned to a character, he or she had grown and struggled...had experienced a whole host of life events...had moved on or hadn't. As the book (and the characters lives) progressed, you could really feel the cumulative nature of events shape us as life plows on with or without us.

The characters in the book reminded me of people I've known, and I found myself thinking "I wonder if that is what so-and-so's life felt like?" It's a book that made me feel tied to the characters very quickly, and I could never put the book down for long, because I wanted to know how everyone's life turned out. It was a wonderful blend of promise and heartache...and our ability to move forward with purpose or languish in familiarity.

Overall, a funny, touching, soulful examination of the lives of a group of friends. Particularly fun to read because of the local setting and tone. A quick read...a good book for those times when you're looking for a new read but aren't quite ready to settle down with a huge story.

I do believe you'll enjoy Merit Badges!

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