There’s a big difference between the two books I am reviewing right now. Serena’s Serenity is merely standard Mary Sue fiction poorly written. Ride Sally Ride veers into territory that makes you fear for the mind of the writer. When I do the Serena book I am seized with the desire to do some very bougie act like having our gardener polish the leaves on our Birds of Paradise, or to lay on the beach sipping an endless parade of Chili Guaro brought by smiling waiters. With the other I feel like pouring moonshine directly onto my brain and scrubbing.
We left Carl and Serena after they done up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T for their family in upstate New York. Chapter 14 starts off with Serena on a bus for NYC and that piano competition. She’s crying, again. Some mysterious piano playing job hangs on the balance of the competition.
A rather smelly large lady sits down next to Serena on the bus, and Serena inward fumes when she keeps talking to Serena. Serena’s asthma acts up, so she tries to ignore the lady.
“A pang of conscience jarred her to the realization that she had been neglecting the opportunity to represent Christ.”
Convicted Serena wheezes and listens sympathetically to the older lady. These two pages infuriate me on two very different levels. First, what harm is there in Serena being surface polite to this woman? None.
Second as someone with severe asthma you should never be subjecting yourself to someone making you wheeze, for any reason. I have been in that exact same situation. You are polite and nice to the person, but you remove yourself to another seat asap. Or you put on your N95 mask, or use your handheld filter and medicate, medicate, medicate. You are under no obligation to ignore your own medical needs for Jesus!
The lady “Corliss” tells Serena at the end of the ride.
“I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, young lady. You don’t seem two-faced.”
Oh, Corliss, if you only you knew what Serena had been thinking! Serena hands her a tract before departing. She meets Corliss daughter and they all share a taxi.
Only when she gets to her dormitory room does Serena bother to medicate. Another extremely unrealistic thing. Every other asthmatic I know has no qualms about whipping that inhaler out and using it immediately. We don’t shamefully hide like it’s something weird.
She cries and frets again before calling Carl to moan about Corliss preventing her from peeing on the bus, and there is all this very crazy conversation about the state of her bladder.
The next morning there is more dumb bladder talk mixed with dizziness and nausea. We get this gem:
“She 200 needed to find a bathroom—-fast!”
Serena discovers there is a clause in the paperwork for this mysterious piano job. She cannot be pregnant. I’m pretty sure it’s against U.S. Labor law to refuse to hire a qualified applicant merely because of pregnancy. It is mentioned thusly in the contract:
“…for the sake of appearance..”
This is getting too predictable. She cries because this means she’ll be forced to use big bad evil birth control. She runs into Corliss daughter Candace, who happens to be the stage manager, who then buys her a pregnancy test before Serena competes after a pile of more bladder talk. Candace tells her:
“You’re a refreshing light in a sin-darkened world.”
Chapter 15 is the actual competition. Serena plays some sort of church music and we are treated to pages and pages of her praying while playing and thinking of her daughter Allegra.
Immediately afterward Serena pees on the stick and yes, she is pregnant. Candace bemoans that her husband does not want children but she does. Serena places second in the competition, but it does not matter, she cannot take the vague job. Her entire family surprises her with a visit right after the competition. Turns out former creepy Jim paid for them all to be there, including creepy Jim. She drops the baby bombshell during ice cream.
They settle into their garage apartment and Serena homeschools the girls:
“The girls weren’t at school where they’d be in danger of guns and knives.”
Is this all that fundamentalists think about organized schools? That they are violent places?
No matter Serena arranges a home school group field trip of where Carl works and we’re treated to a nauseating scene of them making googoo eyes at each other around the kids.
This is all spoiled by a letter from their landlord, Dr. Noyes (hee her maiden name), letting them know he is selling the property and they must depart in 30 days. Serena, of course, agonizes over this, even while hiking and ponders this:
“Serena always wondered why people couldn’t simply say, “I empathize with you. I’ll be praying…” instead of hogging the conversation for ten minutes, expounding upon every detail of their burdens.”
Because self centered whining is the Evangelical way? Like she’s doing in this book. She starts thinking about former friend Bethany most bitterly, throwing mental shade for Bethany moaning about her doctor husband to Serena.
Former friend in Ohio Suzanne calls and asks Serena to play the piano for her upcoming wedding to Creepy Jim. This is followed by many pages agonizing over the move, with Carl claiming that God let her be pregnant to save her from something bad if she had taken the mysterious piano job. They end up getting positions at the “Luxury Hotel” Really, that is the name she gave it. They get to live at “Luxury Hotel” and work there, both of them.
Chapter 16 is all church, all scripture, and all settling into a tiny hotel suite until they have lunch with a church family after church and push homeschooling as the answer to everything. Serena explains how it works at that time in New York state. We end up here:
“Unfortunately, there are some who give us all a bad name by sloughing off and ultimately sending their children back to public school after they’ve lapsed behind.”
What about the ones that homeschool to hide the fact that they are not meeting the childrens physical needs for things like food?
She goes on to claim that people who really care the most about their children homeschool them. Later Serena starts questioning her new friend why she has a mere one child. There is bitching and moaning about the invasive nature of foster care and adoptions.
These people! Judging others, butting into things that are not their business. Schooling when they cannot even correctly spell. None of this makes Christianity attractive to anyone!
Next time we have the family settling into life at the “Luxury Hotel”
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