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The Ice Factory

The Ice Factory by [Phillips, Jason Roger]

The Ice Factory is an entertaining book by author Jason Phillips. It tells the story of hurricane Edna which hit the Caribbean Islands in 1954. The book is written with multiple perspectives focusing on Joy, who lived in Grenada which was decimated by the hurricane, and Audrey, who lives in Trinidad, which was less affected. Joy, the owner of an ice factory, was killed during the storm. Audrey is her niece and closest living relative.

“And when my soul got to the front gates I took my place in the queue. I think I recognized some faces, it’s true. Just in front of me, I saw some people looking very excited, very happy to be here and I even overheard someone talking about someone named Joy … talking about what happened, how it happened, and what then came to pass. This is what I heard them say…”

The entire first chapter, particularly this paragraph, captured my interest in the book. The first chapter did an exceptional job of peeking my interest in the story to come with its beautiful language and its unique character perspective. Having one of your characters speaking from beyond the grave, giving their perspective on the living world is an interesting and fun way to approach a story.

I loved reading the differences and similarities between the way Joy and Audrey viewed the world. They were both strong characters in their own way and met the balance between uniquely interesting and relatable. Both deal with struggles on different levels and approach the way they deal with those difficulties differently but maintain their strength throughout. I found switching back and forth between them to work really well with the story being told. I also liked the focus the book puts on family and the close connections families can have, along with their struggles.

The book kept a good pace as the reader is taken through the characters lives. It balances the dramatic events of the book, like the hurricane, and its effect on the characters’ lives, as well as the smaller struggles of daily life. The book did a great job of making you care about the characters, as the driving force of the plot. Phillips did a masterful job with the entire book of creating distinctive voices in his characters, setting a scene, and grasping a tone for the whole book that placed you in a place, time, and culture.

From beginning to end The Ice Factory is a fun, engaging, interesting, and uplifting story that kept me invested in the story throughout. The characters were well written and fleshed out, keeping me rooting for them the whole time. I enjoyed this book very much and am excited to see what else this author puts forth. I would definitely recommend this book.

Pages: 270 | ASIN: B01MEBVXVY

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Ronnie and Lennie

RonnieandLennie3 Stars

Ronnie and Lennie are blood brothers in the realest sense of the word—as conjoined twins, they literally share the same circulatory system, connected at the chest for life. Set in the hippie days of 1960s and Woodstock, RonnieandLennie by Herb Schultz depicts the challenges (and sometimes the benefits) of being incredibly close to family at all times, along with the consequences of messing with nature. With a complicated backstory that provides some insight into the twins’ condition and emotional state, this novel takes the reader through a journey of understanding the prison of chronic adjustment disorder through the multitude of Ronnie and Lennie’s dangerous experiences.

Set in the 1950s through the 1960s, Ronnie and Lennie, the titular characters of Herb Schultz’s novel RonnieandLennie, are conjoined twins who grow up attached at the chest, held together by a band of skin that connects their circulatory system and their liver. Connie, their absentee mother, never figures out how the twins ended up this way, but she believes it was caused by fallout from an atomic blast that occurred close to her while she was pregnant. Schultz leaves out details of how the fallout may have caused their condition, but this sense of mystery also helps keep the plot from falling into a strict mystery novel format.

Instead of overcoming her struggles, Connie abandons her children in Statesberry, North Carolina, with her aunt Vera. The backstories of the minor characters throughout the novel left me wanting more, as questions about these characters (and the twins) do not feel resolved by the end. The jolty shifts between past and present made the novel feel more like a collection of vignettes rather than a fluid, linear read. Despite this, though, these backstories did provide a great foreshadowing for the dysfunctional futures of the twins.

While being a moody teenager is rough, Ronnie and Lennie make the best of it— they read and play music together and experience the drug culture of the 1960s. With numerous vulgar sex scenes and excessive drug use, the novel seems to exaggerate this culture; however, they help the reader with understanding the difficulty of being a teenage boy without independence. Resentment grows between the twins, but through fortuitous circumstances, the twins eventually end up separated, finally getting what they’ve always wanted: to have an unattached life.

This freedom comes at a cost— Ronnie is depressed while he’s off at school, and Lennie falls prey to destructive vices. When Ronnie learns more about his mother, he leaves school, only to find himself in perilous circumstances that cause him to go to jail. Lennie has a similar fate, ending up in jail for a period of time himself. Years later, they end up intersecting again in their hometown. Upon realizing they both have chronic adjustment disorder, which has been causing their impulsive behavior and depression for many years, they make a life-altering, permanent decision to never be separated again.

RonnieandLennie is carried by the unique titular characters who stumble through life experiences, sometimes falling really hard. But they ultimately blossom into introspective individuals with a future that will break away from the destructive habits of their pasts.

Pages: 238 | ISBN: 0982351607

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