Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: The Upside of Down by Rebecca Talley

I thought I'd post my book reviews in the main part of my blog and then transfer them to the side bar when I make my next post. So, here goes.

From the back of the book:
"Natalie Drake certainly has her hands full raising a large family, dealing with her difficult mother, and maintaining a relationship with her rebellious teenager. Just when things seem to be going smoothly, she finds out another unexpected surprise--she's going to have to have a baby. Faced with so many challenges, Natalie must learn to trust in a plan that isn't what she imagined and discover that every situation has an upside."
 As the  mother of seven children myself, this book really resonated with me. I could tell that Talley had really been there and done that in mothering a large family. Her descriptions of the mischievousness of her two youngest children had me laughing and nodding in recognition of days gone by when I had the very same experiences with my own small children. I imagine some readers would think the scenes are exaggerated. I'm here to say they are not.

I found the writing smooth and very readable. I also found the characters to be, for the most part, believable. I will say that the husband was a little too good to be true, and always seemed to be the strong one who said the exact right thing at the exact right time. I would have liked to see just a teensy bit of weakness in him too. It would have made his character a little more real.

I also had a little trouble believing that Natalie would really be so naive at her age and mothering experience to believe that anything she prayed really hard for would happen. It seems to me that by the time you have seven children, you've pretty much figured out how prayer really works. But, I'm speaking from my experience. Perhaps other women would be like Natalie. It certainly did not ruin the book for me.

I kind of liked that (slight plot spoiler here) the teen-aged daughter's issues were not resolved at the end of the book. If they had been, I think it would have been just a little too icky-sweet, too unrealistic. The daughter exercised her agency, as they will do, and everyone is just making the best of it. That felt very real to me.

So, good job Rebecca Talley. Thanks for a good read.


  1. Pretty blog, Karen! I enjoyed your comments about the book resonating with you because you have a large family, too! Great memories!

  2. Thank you! I always like to hear what people like, and don't like, about my books and I appreciate your take on it. The husband is based on mine, and, yes, he really is that nice and he has been steady and immovable in his faith through all we've been through.

    As far as Natalie, I myself believed for years that I could pray things away. Maybe I just always happened to pray for the right things, but it always seemed as though whatever I prayed for is what happened for years . . . until it didn't and that really threw me for a loop. Anyway, writing really comes from our own beliefs and experiences so I appreciate that yours were different and seeing other people's pov helps me be a better writer.

    Thank you for reading it and reviewing it!

  3. I wondered if that part (about prayer) wasn't from personal experience. I guess I just learned that lesson at a different time in my life. I also sensed that your husband was probably the model for the husband in the book. Sounds like you got a good one! Sometimes writing truth sounds like fiction, right?

    Thanks for your comment and thanks for a great book.

  4. Thanks, Karen (and Rebecca) for your insight. I've had my share if "if I'm righteous enough the really bad things will go away/stop/not happen" moments. I appreciate that this book and our own experiences show us how to live with different circumstances than we would have chosen.

  5. Looking forward to reading Upside of Down. Thanks!

  6. Karen,
    This is a great review. I have a large family as well, and wish I could have all the things I pray for regarding my children.