Here is the sequel to my top pick of a few post ago, Shannon Olson's Children of God Go Bowling. I waited in great anticipation for this book, as it was delayed being published. While I've yet to write a novel, I can only imagine how hard it is to do. And then to have to come up with another one just a few years later? Well, I can understand the delay. But, it was well worth the wait.
We rejoin Shannon in her mid-30s, still struggling with the same issues of the previous book. She has yet to find a boyfriend, yet all her friends have paired off and have started to pop out babies. She still does her laundry at home. Instead of peeking in on her sessions with her counselor, we now take part in group therapy with her (a suggestion from the aforementioned counselor). The characters in group therapy with her are just who you'd imagine, and the sessions play out as scenes in a movie might - the passing of the tissues, the breakdowns, the snide comments, the reprimanding from the group therapist. But at the end of the day, this mess of people, who only know each other because of group therapy, really help each other. Shannon's inner thoughts on the group rank right up there with some of the funniest things I've ever read.
The title of the book is a reference to something someone in her group therapy session said about the sport of bowling. It seems most people bowl pretty poorly. So, no matter who we are in our everyday lives, when we bowl together, we're all on an even playing field. Or, in other words, God loves us all equally.
Shannon also makes a reconnection with a college friend, Adam, who is also single in the city. Maybe Shannon has been setting her sights too high and has missed the laid back, silly, lanky, kind-of-cute friend who has been in front of her ever since freshman dorm life? Things don't work out that way, but Shannon and Adam do experience an emotional road in the end.
This book includes the same humor that I loved so much in Welcome to My Planet. However, it reaches a little deeper than the previous book. Through her sarcasm and self-deprecating manner, Shannon is forced to deal with some very adult emotions and experiences, and watching (reading) her struggle through it and make the decisions she does is emotional for the reader as well. When I read this book in 2004, I learned what life might bring in the future. And now, nearly four years later, I've experience some of the the same things Shannon did. Maybe I wasn't that much better prepared for it all, but I do think her story helped. It's amazing to me how books can do that.
(Sara L., I hope you're bowling strikes right now. We miss you.)