Blog Book Tour | “Dear Jane” by Rachel Ward An alternative story about receiving a ‘dear john’ letter from a feminine perspective.

Posted Sunday, 14 August, 2016 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past two years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming this August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I was selected to be a part of the “Dear Jane” blog tour wherein I received a complimentary copy of “Dear Jane” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I love a good re-telling of a classic story-line and when I first read the premise behind ‘Dear Jane’, I had a feeling I would curl up inside this novel quite well! Who wouldn’t appreciate reading the female perspective on behalf of a ‘dear john’ letter?! Women were sent so many of those during the war eras – it was such a hard way of ending a relationship, especially difficult if the other person felt blindsided! I oft felt these were the hardest letters to receive – one moment your cruising along thinking all is well and then, bam! Your world is turnt upside down by such an incredibly deflating life moment erupting through your ordinary hours with such a force as to knock you down.

I wanted to see how Ms Ward would approach the classical bit of the story-line – the moment of realisation that her character Quinn was not on the path to matrimony but she was about instead to do an about-face and re-chart her life’s path. How would Quinn respond initially and what would re-ignite her joy to resume her path when all her plans are shredded and tossed into the bin!?

This is why I wanted to read this story! I wanted to see what kind of chutzpah Quinn had in her belly to take life’s unexpected fires and paint the sky with her own starlight as she rebuilds after feeling broken-hearted and alone.

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Blog Book Tour | “Dear Jane” by Rachel Ward An alternative story about receiving a ‘dear john’ letter from a feminine perspective.Dear Jane

Quinn had her life perfectly planned out when she left on her mission: come home in eighteen months, marry her stunningly handsome boyfriend, and live happily ever after. But all that changed when Quinn got a Dear Jane email from the man she thought she was meant to be with. Now she's stuck at home with no boyfriend, no job, no major, and absolutely no social life.

Will Quinn ever find the path that leads to her eternal happiness?

Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9781462118939

on 1st August, 2016

Pages: 256

Published By: Bonneville Books (@BonnevilleBooks)
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #DearJane, #ContemporaryFiction, #CleanFiction, #INSPY or #LDSFiction

About Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward Photo Credit: Lindsay Walden Photography

Rachel Turner Ward graduated from Hillcrest High School after spending two years writing for the yearbook and the creative writing magazine. She then studied English at Brigham Young University­—Idaho, graduating with an emphasis in Literary Studies. She has contributed to several online publications, including Mormon Mommy Blogs and SheSteals. She has written a personal blog since 2009, Trapped Between a Scream and a Hug. Rachel lives in Salt Lake with her six children and husband of 15 years.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Walden Photography

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Life can shift right before your eyes:

There is so much happening inside the Prologue of this novel – in some ways, I wished Ms Ward had mentioned what a P-day meant, but I simply presumed it meant ‘personal day’ as it was the only thing that made sense to me. I’m entering into reading LDS Fiction from the perspective of a non-LDS Protestant, so sometimes I trip a bit on the terminology or the traditions that are unfamiliar to me, however, I’m open to learn about other denominations and religions; hence why my INSPY reads are as varied as the constellations! Sometimes I think writers who are writing through the LDS perspective forget some of us are seeking out LDS Fiction because we appreciate gentle reads with uplifting story-lines even though we’re not Mormon ourselves.

This notation aside, what struck me the most is how the living quarters are not the best for visiting missionaries as I was a bit surprised by the condition of the flat being rented for the Sisters? Although I realise housing is at a premium cost in an uncertain socio-economnic world today, there are housing options that I would have felt might have been a better fit for two girls serving so far from home. It reminded me of the housing conditions I observed whilst visiting a University as the conditions were so deplorable from the outside, I could not imagine how the kids were surviving inside if the outside made you feel faint!

Overall what staid with me from this entrance into Quinn’s life is how your life can shift right before your eyes! Quinn had gone to the local library to check her emails, never thinking she’d receive one that would alter her outlook nor the very course of her life! Imagine the jubilation of being away from home, getting notes and updates from friends or family alike, only to be jolted right out of your bliss by the unexpected ‘dear john’ letter!? I quite literally am uncertain how I’d have recovered as it would have crushed your emotional well-being if not led you to second guess everything you knew for being true.

My review of Dear Jane:

Quinn is unexpectedly displaced back home, where her parents are supportive but are hoping her entrance into the workforce will yield to her own residence and mode of transportation. She doesn’t have a lot of time to think through what she wants to do, but rather starts job hunting straight-off in order to land a job that someone might give her a chance at holding down. As her personal life is in turmoil and her close friendships are a bit on pause at the moment due to her recent break-up, she finds more solace in a her budding sisterhood bond with her younger sister Annie. It was one of those unexpected blessings of finding that a sibling had matured in your absence and had become a close companion thereafter.

Her first job placed her as a receptionist and assistant at a highly active real estate office but the downside was being reunited with someone she had met on her mission. Working in the Southeast had proven to be a balm to her spirits in more ways than one, as she felt freer being of service to others whilst living in a climate that was more in-tune with her own personal climatic preferences as well. There is a secret boiling under the surface when it comes to her co-worker Nick; something that left her piqued to know more about as it was a part of his character she had not expected to find.

Part of her homecoming was learning about what had happened in her absence on her mission and this is where Ward throws in a few curve-balls that upset Quinn’s equilibrium. Until now, Quinn had a pretty traditional track of expectations and whose family had a traditional upbringing without controversy. When her sister Annie rebels for the first time by adding in purple to her locks (a temporary addition I smiled at for being so wicked awesome) and her older brother Nate’s alarming news that set her back a bit in her spirit, Quinn was finding the big wide world out there was full of unsuspecting surprises. Sometimes the surprises can warm a person’s soul but the kind Quinn was experiencing was more of the shattering kind that left you feeling numb and nauseated.

Ward chose to tackle heady issues in her debut novel – as she talks openly about having to readjust after losing grace within the church and the tragic loss of a loved one from suicide. These are difficulties rooted into the fabric of where Quinn’s life is taking her once she’s back home, realising that the world has arrived at her doorstep. It’s the juxtaposition all children go through when their maturing past the school years, where everything that once felt rosy and bubbly full of light and spirit was suddenly a bit marred by a swelling darkness of reality. I felt Ward broached the difficulties well whilst giving Quinn a humble and honest reaction to each new trial she was facing as her family worked through the impossible.

I loved how Ward surprises her readers by introducing Nick’s backstory slowly as Quinn starts to spend more time with him. The interesting bit is that it’s a good life lesson about not always understanding a person’s past or their personality as sometimes their stand-offish behaviour has a reason behind it. Further curious is how through her conversations with Nick, Quinn started to soften her own guarded heart and openly talk about what bothered her on a personal level. They were each others’ huckleberry friend in brewing chaos where a new friendship was fast developing without their awareness. I felt this was the most authentic part of the turning point for Quinn’s life; where she was getting a feel for how first impressions are not always accurate and how serendipity has a way of affecting your life positively even if everything else feels upturnt.

Keeping true to a coming-of age tale, not everything is as it appears to be – even when things start to look like their turning round in Quinn’s favour. This was a bit frustrating if your reading the novel and want to see Quinn’s story end in happiness at some point. It felt like everything she felt was righting itself for the good in her life was being taken from her soon thereafter. However, as relationships are naturally complicated, Ward does present good folly for her characters to wrangle inside whilst trying to sort out what they truly want from each other and from life.

Ward etched in so much behind the relationships and the growing season for Quinn, that you nearly are not entirely ready to meet each new scene where tensions are as high as the emotions! I was a bit shocked by the depth of spite from Quinn’s mother at various intervals of the story as it developed; her paltry apology at the conclusion didn’t quite warm me to her or feel as if she vindicated herself from the misery she subjected her daughter(s) too. The best part I felt was the developing love story and the arc of narrative that proves that emergencies and non-traditional trajectories are more commonplace than you realise. Life comes around the corner so blaring fast, you have to bolster your strength out of your faith and hope you have the courage to face what tomorrow brings. If you do, you’ll find butterflies of joy alighting throughout the days where you feel you cannot be surprised in a good way after a succession of adversity.

Quinn definitely proved that the best thing

that happened to her was receiving a ‘Dear Jane’ letter!

It granted her the freedom to re-discover who she is and who she wanted to become.

Whilst opening a door to unexpected love.

On the Contemporary writing style of Rachel Ward:

Ward is approaching writing her Contemporary through the eyes and lives of young people who are growing up in a world that is a composite of our own. Through my previous readings of Bonneville Books titles, I’ve learnt quite a bit about missionaries and the mission trips LDS youth embark on to spread the Gospel whilst being in service for others wherever they are sent. Most stay within the states, but missionaries can be sent across the world as well. As I mentioned previously, I’ve met missionaries in my local region and they are always full of happy spirits with a joyful conversation in tow.

I was a little surprised Quinn’s parents did not comp some of her expenses whilst she was seeking out a job, as they seemed to instead have her do all the home improvement work they could have contracted out. Either that, or they could have turned them into family projects. I was surprised how hard they had her work knowing she wasn’t outdoorsy and most of the skills they sought in her were not the ones that she was readily apt to provide. She did champion through it all, but I questioned the logic in the process, as why not help her better herself towards a job she could earn with confidence than working her so hard to exhaust her chances? Perhaps it’s just a difference of opinion in parenthood. I do know I did not relate to having an ‘exit date’ hanging over a person’s head if they were earnestly working towards being independent but were not yet ready to exit the family’s home due to not being financially sound to live separately.

I had to take some of the passages in stride realising that clearly other families are dealing with their children’s growing years differently than how I was raised or how my parents were raised. My family always had an open door policy without an ‘end clause’ wherein once it was right for you to leave, you left but you were always welcome home without conditions. Apparently this is not the norm and therefore, Ward did highlight college-aged children in the right light if the opposite is true for the majority.

Ward does well to show the differences between growing up in a family and how your role or self-identification on behalf of the family or the world can change as you enter different stages in your life. For Quinn, this meant seeing things from a different perspective than as a regular sibling or daughter; by having the fuller effect of the life moments hit her emotionally and change her scope of how life can change almost overnight. This is one of the best gifts Ward gave her story, as she grounded the novel in realism and contemporary choices most young people can relate too.

Note on placement for novel:

Due to the realistic nature of the story, I felt Dear Jane would be appealing for readers seeking Upper YA Realistic Fiction as much as adult INSPY readers seeking an inspiring Contemporary story. I marked this as Upper YA simply because it’s that space of time between exiting high school and merging into life either through University, a gap year, employment or taking time off to discover who you are and what you want to do. The heavier subjects are treated with grace and compassion where I think an Upper YA reader would appreciate what they find inside.

Curiosity note:

I was surprised there was a brief reference about swim gear and how missionaries wouldn’t take swim gear on their missions? There are so many wonderful options right now for swimmers, modesty isn’t an issue anymore. Especially if you consider the tech suits, the longer versions of board shorts (for all genders) and the razguards as well. I was curious if it was strictly considered a personal interest to explore on ‘personal time’ outside of a mission or if swimming simply wasn’t a sport Mormons regularly exercise due to modesty concerns. It’s the first I’ve heard of this and thus it stood out.

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This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

Follow the Virtual Road Map by visiting the blog tour route:

Dear Jane blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comI look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Dear Jane”, author biography and author photograph of Rachel Ward were provided by the author Rachel Ward and used with permission. The book synopsis, tour banner and Cedar Fort Publishing badge were all provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.

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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 14 August, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Brothers and Sisters, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Loss of an unbourne child, Modern Day, Mormonism, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Realistic Fiction, Self-Harm Practices, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Unexpected Pregnancy, Upper YA Fiction, Utah

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3 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Dear Jane” by Rachel Ward An alternative story about receiving a ‘dear john’ letter from a feminine perspective.

    • Hallo, Hallo Rissi!

      So nice to see you dropping by tonight! :) Yes, it’s interesting due to how Ward layered in realistic fiction elements to craft her Sweet Romance to have a bit more of a heartier story under the gloss of the Rom. I was surprised at a lot of the different turns of narrative, but at the heart of the story is an incredible balance of hope, faith, love and the resilience of surviving whatever life throws your way. I found it refreshingly unique. If you pick it up, return to let me know your thoughts! :) Also, yes, I liked the cover art, although I didn’t find it resonated with the story-line, sadly.

      • Thanks, Jorie. It was lovely to stop by. I confess I don’t visit WordPress blogs as often as I might like to. Generally, I’m a Blogger girl. :)

        I *almost* added this one to my Amazon cart tonight, but alas, I was too tempted by other books. Oh the many choices a book nerd must make. ;)

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