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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cricket’s Moon by Jane Bierce

Cricket’s Moon by Jane Bierce
Publisher: Awe-Struck Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (248 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Cricket Stafford spends her last dollar on a lottery ticket, knowing the furniture store she works for can't stay in business much longer, and her family frowns on gambling. The next morning the town is buzzing with the news that someone in Hazlett won the lottery. After church, Cricket and her brother Bill get a newspaper and are stunned to see that she has the winning ticket.

Her first move is to go to the town's best lawyer, instead she finds his son, also a lawyer recently home from a disappointing stint in Washington. Mark realizes that he's found the opportunity to change the world in his hometown.

Cricket faces resistance in a community sharply divided by economics even more than by color.

The very best of Cricket’s Moon is the homey, easy-to-know main character herself, Cricket. These days its easy to sympathize with others who are determined to be painfully frugal. Cricket copes with life in a straightforward, non-judgmental way that is completely refreshing. She’s a genuine, and genuinely nice person, who eventually determines to create a truly wonderful act of good. It would be easy to doubt her – who could be so driven to do good? But, she comes across as believable.

Her brother perhaps strays past the border on goody-two-shoes, and in fact, some of the dialogue with him was tedious. This is perhaps a small complaint, but he is fairly important throughout.

Cricket’s situation – her rather desperate purchase of a lottery ticket, and then winning , feels a little contrived and brings with it some question of plausibility. The reader will likely be so engaged with Cricket, by the time that whole question crops up, that they’ll keep reading, anyway. And, Mark is more than worth getting to know – what a charming leading man! He’s straightforward, helpful, and a professional person. I wish he were a little more his own man, and that the romance was a little less engineered, or less predictable.

Bierce also develops an strong tone or aura especially in her more descriptive moments. “Clouds banked on the far western horizon, presaging a brilliant sunset.” Is but one line of many that borders on the poetic and accentuates what Cricket is feeling at any particular time. Some moments are so wonderfully evocative… and yet then we bump into subtle humor (like the bank manager that admits to making lots of mistakes with small amounts, but being very reliable for larger sums.)

The setting really could be any small town USA, from ball fields to the local characters that are area professionals like bankers and attorneys. Even the local police have that small town sorts feel. Its pleasant and homey and easy to picture in your mind.

Although a couple key points are far too coincidental, the characters make this well worth the read. Bierce carries off an intriguing, off beat and original character study. Reading it will force you to consider the best of human psychology.