Sunday, January 31, 2010

9. The Liberation of Henry Belmont by Steve Gudofsky

PR Log (Press Release) When Henry Belmont learns that he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and just three years to live, he doesn’t make any phone calls. He doesn’t rush to tell his friends and family. He tells no one. He doesn’t want to be pitied for this fast approaching end to an unspectacular life.

His life could have been different. He could have been something else, maybe even someone else. But he isn’t going to waste the precious time he has left. Henry decides to spend the rest of his life doing the things that previously were relegated to fantasy.
And in the end, he will find the freedom to be the person he’s always wanted to be in The Liberation of Henry Belmont.

About a year ago, my email address was given to a publisher who would send me blurbs about recently published books that I could request a review copy of.  After requesting a large number of books and never receiving them, I had about decided to ask the publisher to take me off their list; then I received this book.  So I was excited to finally be chosen to review a book.  First off, I'm hoping this is an ARC because there were several mistakes that an editor should have caught.  The three that stick in my mind is when Helen's name is used when it should have been June and Henry's name was used in two places that should have been other characters.  That kind of thing interupts the flow a little as you have to stop and think, "Just what is out of whack here?"  But I liked the premise of a story of a dying man who is determined to go it alone without the help and sympathy of his family and friends.  I got a little confused when the narrative quickly diverts into the story of two other men:  Derek, who loves disguises, robs banks and is planning a $20 million con; and Panama Ed, who buys a condo on the beach and likes to pick up women at the local bar.  But I quickly figured out the connection between the three and carried on.   My problem with the book is that I didn't really care for any of the three men or their family and acquaintenances.  I questioned their motives and just found them to be unbelievable.  There are some sex scenes which seemed to be thrown in for good measure, but thankfully were not explicit or distasteful.  The flirting banter between Ed and June or Peter and Helen didn't ring true for me either.  The entire book seemed to be lacking a spark of morality that disturbed me.  Bank robbers and con men getting away with their escapades with no disquiet, just a sense of triumph; and casual sex leading to fond farewells.   And even though everyone's lives seem to end on a positive note and the money is spread out so everyone is better off financially, I disagree with the end justifying the means.  I feel bad that this story was not more uplifting.  On a positive note, the story was interesting even though the jump between characters a bit abrupt; and I do like that the author is donating his first-year's royalties to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  So I'm hoping that others like this book better than I did. 
Rating:  2
Disclaimer:  This book was furnished to me free of charge.  The preceding review, with the exception of the publisher's blurb, is strictly my own opinion. 

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