Games of Make-Believe
Julie Ann Wambach
November 15, 2016
Julie Ann Wambach, an Arizona resident for fifty years, sets her new book, Games of Make-Believe, in the early Phoenix, Arizona, area where the population by 1990 had grown by seven and half times of that in 1960. During these years, the explosive building boom and rapid cultural changes brought by an influx of diverse people from many other parts of the country imposed a heavy price tag on residents. For Dr. Wambach, a retired college professor whose early writings were primarily in the academic arena, this is her first work of fiction.
Amidst the 1960-1990 Phoenix transformation, the Prince family struggles to create what we now call a "blended family" before they ever heard the term. When a prosperous gentleman convinces her to marry him, Bella's arduous existence suddenly holds the promise of enchantment. Thus begins twenty-eight stories, some in the style of a romantic fairytale, others of a comedy or a tragedy. Together, the stories explore the role of make-believe in a dysfunctional stepfamily trying to make sense of their lives in the changing community around them.
At the center of the family discord is the daughter who Bella's husband brings into the marriage. Renata immediately rejects her new stepmother and two stepsisters. No one knows how to unify this group. As an adult survivor of child abuse, Bella struggles to create a convincing self-identity within her new husband's affluent world. Her take-charge approach to running the family convinces others, but not herself. In an effort to make sense of it all, Bella latches onto a series of religions and pop psychologies, while her husband wholly devotes himself to the intense competition surrounding his flourishing home development business.
I haven’t accepted many books for review in the last year. Mostly due to the fact I have an ever growing books shelf. When I was told about ‘Games of Make Believe’, I just had to read it. Being a moderately picky person when it comes to books, I never take a book I feel might not fit me. I missed the target with this story and it has taken me a while to write this review as I feel completely awful sharing not-so-great reviews.
While there were a few things I disliked about the story, my biggest issue was the multiple story lines. The author would start telling a story and then drop it without closing it. By the end of the book, I felt like I was holding on to multiple story lines that hadn’t been resolved. MILD SPOILERS* Including child death and sexual abuse….wasn’t expecting that.* Due to this, I don’t think I found myself connecting to any character. It was like a game of tug-o-war, but with multiple plots pulling me in different directions. I’ve read Game of Thrones, and many stories with multiple characters/plot lines but I found this hard to follow. I’m also a big believer in ‘show not tell’. I disliked the constant feeling of being ‘told’ everything. While the book does of sections of ‘show’, it just didn’t shine through. This was a minimal issue but it still bothered me a bit.
In closing, I would like to say the Author is great with words, but I feel there was much to be desired. I don’t think I would recommend this book. I didn’t find any typos or grammar issues but it just didn’t work with me.
I’m a geek blogger, mom, a wife, and a reader. My family and I are currently living in the beautiful state of Colorado. I started my blog after I landed myself in the hospital for multiple pulmonary embolisms. It took over a year to diagnose me with lupus among other things. It’s been a long journey but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I read all genres and I write about anything I feel like; From my issues with Lupus/RA/pulmonary embolisms to what is going on in the book world. Every day is a new adventure!