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Black Rosebud

Author: Bobby and Kam Ruble
Genre: Mainstream
Reviewed by: Kevin R. Tipple

"As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, the pages of calendars seemed to change with the blink of an eye. With each passing day, tomorrow suddenly became yesterday." (Page 470)

534The above quote comes from deep within this detailed and interesting novel. Not only does it sum up the story to that point, it actually also sums up this novel which, despite the title, is not a sequel to the first novel, "Have No Mercy." However, like the namesake, this novel features detailed characters and the tragic results of years of deceit, ignorance and greed.

There are two primary storylines in this 561-page novel and for the most part, each exists independent of the other until the twisting, shocking conclusion. One storyline involves Mama and her daughter known as "Farm Girl." Educationally and financially impoverished, they drift from place to place on Mama's whim as she does farm chores in exchange for food, a place to sleep, and a little money. They wind up on the Welk farm and end up staying for far longer than they planned as an emotional bond is made between them and the elderly Jefferson Welk.

"For Mama there was an instant bond with Jefferson. Quite unlike most of the farmers treated her in the past, Jefferson didn't talk down to her, like he was better than she was. His gentle way of speaking was comforting. She could find no argument in doing household tasks and cooking, or in finally teaching her daughter how to manage inside domestic chores." (Page 17)

The other storyline involves Darrin George Righter who lives with his much older brother, Frank, on the family farm in rural Nebraska. As a teenager, Darin caused problems and didn't seem to have inherited Frank's love for the farm, work ethic, or ability to act responsibly. After graduating from college, a lack of resources and a lack of employment forced Darin back to the family farm he hated so much.
"For a short time, unemployed Darin was either out and about town, drinking and carousing, or sitting around the house drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. He never bothered to lift a hand to help Frank. Easy going Frank didn't mind. Money was never an issue." (Page 27)

Eventually, Darrin gets a job at a local bank and before long hatches a devious plan to begin stealing from bank customers. At roughly the same time, Jefferson begins to teach Farm Girl the basics as best as he can while they all become closer. As months pass, Darin temporarily crosses paths with Jefferson and Farm Girl, setting into motion further tragic events, before his own storyline splits off again.

As in "Have No Mercy," these characters and their actions are described in exhausting detail. Along with finding the occasional typos, a good editor would have been able to streamline this very expansive work somewhat by cutting down some of the dialogue, back story and overall details. Many areas of this novel could have been cut considerably without altering the overall story.

However, while it is excessively wordy, the overall story is complex, interesting, and keeps the reader involved. Things and events are planned out very well and fully described as the novel moves very slowly forward. There is a logical progression both in terms of character development as well as in the storyline and all questions are answered. Nothing is left hanging and open to reader interpretation as everything is fully and completely explained. The reader is left with an interesting and complex, as well as overall enjoyable, tale full of deceit and greed along with the usual warning from mothers everywhere - be careful what you wish for.


May 12, 2004 in Mainstream | Permalink


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