Wishin' On A Star
Wishin’ On A Star starts out with potential in its two lead characters. Heroine Shelby Russau is a lonely woman who has lost both her parents and her only brother, and believes herself to be alone in the world. Hero Raphael Blaize is a Grenadian man whose obsession with family in the abstract has led him to track down Shelby, aunt to the son that neither Shelby nor her deceased brother ever knew he had. However, the potential in this situation, and in the island setting of Grenada, a nation rich in authentic history and culture, is squandered through flat characterization, lifeless writing, and shoddy treatment of Grenadian culture, not to mention a villain whose motivation makes Dr. Evil and Scooby Doo bad guys seem authentic.
Blaize convinces Shelby to return with him to Grenada to help his nephew, who is in danger of dying from either sickle-cell anemia (which Shelby can help with a transfusion because – of course – she is the only one who shares his super-rare blood type) or possibly a loss of the “old ways” of the island. Blaize is determined to revive a sort of manhood ceremony for his nephew, and through that a re-embrace of the old ways of the islanders as well.
As a hero, Raphael Blaize did nothing for me; the biggest urge I had was to give him a swift kick. How do I hate him? Let me count the ways. He starts out contemptuous of Shelby and her brother for ignoring their family ties. He makes a lot of “You Americans” generalizations that raise my hackles. I’m far from a my-country-right-or-wrong sort of person, but nothing makes a person from another country less appealing than sweeping generalizations about myself based on a “Yanqui go home” mentality. Then there’s his attitude toward love and sex; his oily “live for today” suggestions and his refusal to contemplate a long term relationship made him seem like a typical resort island Lothario, not a desirable hero. And naturally Shelby, despite her endless and tedious internal dialogue about her high standards and saving herself for a committed relationship, tumbles right off into bed with him. The only reason the two of them didn’t irritate me more was that they were so two-dimensional and ultimately forgetable.
Also irritating was the “ceremony” at the heart of the story. There is so much real and mostly lost African-Carribean culture and ritual available – why did author Snoe seemingly make up a generic New Age/neopagan/ancestor worship mishmash? And then there’s the villain, who needs to prevent the ceremony from occuring because it endangers a gazillion-dollar deal with Americans – we Americans won’t do business with crazy Stone Age types who practice antiquated rituals, see. Obviously the bad guy needs to go to a Phish concert or a Rainbow Gathering one of these days.
Enough. The only reason I finished this book was because I was reviewing it. I had the forlorn hope that something – anything – would improve by the end, but trust me, it doesn’t. If you want to escape to the Caribbean with a studly island man, read Terry McMillin’s superior How Stella Got Her Groove Back instead.