Read September 28 – October 2, 2016.
If I had to sum up Feet of Clay in just two words: obsession and addiction.
In it we meet Max, a high school English teacher. The author did an excellent job establishing Max’s obsessive personality in very short order. Simple statements like “On Tuesday he ate fish” or “he made his usual fry for breakfast, but nothing on the plate should touch and his orange juice had to fill the glass to the exact same spot” left zero room for doubt of his ability for obsessive behaviors. Then, enter Taylor, a 17 year old student from his class. He is intrigued with her essays and assignments and can’t stop thinking about her. What starts out as apparent concern for her falling grades, small town rumors about her behavior, and appalling home life (her mother is a drunk and a floozy) quickly turns into something darker that we, as the reader, can feel coming like a storm. I had some major ick-factor getting through a couple of the early chapters. Then, Max does something unforgivable and Taylor disappears from his life without a trace.
Five years later, fate brings Taylor back and this is where the story became hard for me to comprehend; I couldn’t understand Taylor’s motivations at all… but that’s the beauty of a story, letting you experience something you yourself would never personally do. Taylor is now an addict hooked on pills, alcohol and nicotine. Max’s obsession with her is rekindled and he tries everything in his power to help her get sober, but in doing so spirals into alcoholism himself. The story is tragic, their struggles epic, and the ordeals they face as a couple with an almost 40 year age difference were interesting. They’re like the accident scene you drive past and you just have to stare at the twisted metal while thinking ‘so glad that’s not me.’
While Max and Taylor’s story was gripping, where things came apart for me was the dialogue. I felt like the characters were saying the same things over and over. And not in an obsessive or addiction-fueled way, but literally saying the exact same words again and again. Sometimes, I would have to stop reading in the middle of one of their arguments to make sure I hadn’t lost my place and read the same line twice; nope, the same words were just used two lines prior. There were also quite a few grammatical mistakes, but nothing some editing couldn’t clean up.
I’m settling on 3.5 stars here. An interesting story with a compelling look into addiction cycles and the idea of obsession versus love, but I felt the dialogues could use some work.
Interested? Check it out on Amazon.