Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Book Review: Of Grace and Chocolate by Krista Lynne Jensen
Author: Krista Lynne Jensen
Enjoyment Rating: ****
This book would be rated: PG
I apologize that the remainder of my Whitney reviews will be brief; I'm trying to get them all published before the awards banquet on Saturday, when they become irrelevant, and my time is limited to nap time these days. Because I know that people are waiting with baited breath to see what I have to say. Or not, but I still feel compelled to get this done.
That disclaimer out of the way, I really enjoyed Krista Lynne Jensen's Of Grace and Chocolate, a contender in the Romance category, but which would have worked equally well in mystery/suspense or general, since it seemed to go beyond the bounds of romance. One of the things I've really come to appreciate about the Romance category this year is the way that several of the books (this one, and both of Melanie Jacobson's novels) work within the framework of LDS culture. In Of Grace and Chocolate, Jill is an aspiring novelist and grunt worker at a publishing house. But she's okay with that, because she's finally freed herself of the burdens of her alcoholic mother and her unstable younger sister. She seems unwilling to let herself get too entangled with anyone, especially with Scott, who can't even remember that he snubbed her half a lifetime ago when they were both in high school. But then her sister shows up on her door with a baby, a suitcase full of money, and a group of violent drug dealers hot on her tail. Jill must rely on her faith, her ward members, and unfortunately, Scott Gentry, to help her through the situation.
This year, there were many gems in the Whitney Finalists, and I felt that Of Grace and Chocolate was one of them. It combined well-drawn, complicated characters with an engaging plot line, told from the perspective of LDS culture. I also appreciated that these weren't cookie-cutter Mormons-- Jill felt a lot more like the Mormons I know than the Mormons I often see represented in print. I hope to read more of Jensen's work in the future, but wouldn't be surprised to see her nominated in different categories.