Meghan Blaney comes from a long line of self-sufficient, gritty Maine lobstermen. She knows a thing or two about hard work, loyalty, and sacrifice. When she put off going to culinary school so she could take care of her aging father, she never expected to be schlepping pancakes at a local diner a decade later. Nor did she plan to be living in an old house that was too small for her partner, Lauren, and her cantankerous father.
Meghan’s life becomes even more complicated when she agrees to let her ex-con brother, Scott, stay with them. He unwittingly brings the sordid underbelly of the fishing industry and one troublesome gun into their lives. Meghan quickly learns the hard way, despite everyone’s best intentions, having a gun comes with its own unintended blowback.
I’ve been sitting here trying to find my way into this review. This is a first for me. Usually, I finish a book, take a break from it to jot down some notes, maybe get a bite to eat or watch the news, and then sit down to write the review. But, this time, that’s not working for me.
Pen in hand. Notebook open. But there’s no ink on the page.
Stand at the refrigerator door. Eyes roam over the possibilities. Door closes without making a selection.
Turn on the TV. Flip through some channels. Put the sound on mute.
Sit back at the computer. Stare at the screen. The blinking cursor is mocking me.
I did this three times. Yes. Three times. My routine wasn’t working for me. So, I broke my routine.
I vacuumed, dusted, and loaded the dishwasher. That seemed to help.
Blowback (Bedazzled Ink) is a rich, complex novel. Prescott has given us a mystery/thriller that is at once hard to read and nearly impossible to put down. I did have to put it down a couple of times – life sort of creeps in sometimes and requires it – but it stayed with me. It gnawed at me. It made me think. It made me flinch. It made me reexamine my own perspectives. And it made me deal with “life” more quickly than I usually would, just so I could get back to the story.
It’s difficult to say too much about Blowback without giving away the story. So, I won’t delve into a lot of detail regarding subject, plotlines, etc. What I can tell you is that the book is solidly written, the story is undeniably realistic, and it will stay with the reader for quite some time.
Prescott does a really nice job of writing a compelling, tightly-woven narrative. Her prose is precise – every word was chosen for a particular reason. The dialogue is natural and believable – I could hear it being spoken in my head. Her descriptions of Maine are detailed and vivid. Rather than being superfluous descriptions that distract the reader from the story itself, they are instead an essential part of the book. Maine becomes another character in Blowback. Meghan, her father, her brother and others are all very clearly rooted in Maine and are affected by it in various ways.
Sadly, the story that is told is far too based in reality. Prescott has said that Blowback is not a romance. While I did find elements of romance in the story, I have to agree with her. This is most definitely a mystery/thriller. But, as Prescott herself writes in the Afterword to the novel, it is a cautionary tale. The gun-control debate is argued often and vehemently in the United States. And what is so frightening, is that the events in this novel could, potentially, happen to any of us. It could be my story. It could be your story. It could be anyone’s story. What makes Blowback so unique in my mind is how Prescott handles the debate throughout the novel. She doesn’t preachify. She doesn’t take sides. She argues both sides of the debate with intelligence and heart. Rather than telling the reader to be pro- or anti- gun control, she leaves it to us to examine our own views, our own beliefs, our own convictions. And she lets us decide. And she does so in a way that makes it very easy for the reader to relate to the issues. We’re not bogged down by laws and politics throughout the story. The story is told at a personal level, which makes it that much more powerful.
Without a doubt, I will be thinking about this novel for a long, long time. It has already taken over my thoughts. Everything seems to bring me back to Meghan and Lauren and Scott and Jared and Midge. These characters and their experiences will live with me. It may take me a while, but I will return to this book and read it again. (I might have to read a few of my “fluffy romance comfort books” first.) Blowback is a novel that, in my opinion, would be so beneficial to college courses – in all sorts of disciplines. It opens discussions surrounding an important, highly-contested issue in our society and it does so in a way that brings the reader directly into the debate. Will someone who is staunchly anti-gun control suddenly do a one-eighty and lobby for the banishment of all guns? Probably not. Will someone who has lobbied for harsh gun control laws go right out to purchase guns while declaring Second Amendment rights? Doubt it. But will it make both of those people think? I believe so. Will it make them examine their reasons for being so firmly on one side or the other of the issue? I’m sure of it. Will it make them move to a more moderate position and work together to “fix” these problems. Gosh, I hope so.
I won’t lie to you, Blowback isn’t always easy to read. Anything that makes us reexamine ourselves can be difficult to take. Especially when it’s so steeped in realism. But I will tell you this: Blowback is worth reading – every, single word.
Do NOT miss out on reading this book.