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Posted August 29, 2012
ALL YOUR PRETTY DREAMS by Lisa McClendon
ALL YOUR PRETTY DREAM is the August 2012 release by author Lisa McClendon. Focusing on small town Red Vine, Minnesota and the citizens who reside there, All Your Pretty Dreams centers on the Knobel family’s struggle with love, betrayal, aging and growing up. The world and people around Red Vine are moving forward, but the citizens of the sleepy town seem to be stuck in a time warp where old habits and Saturday afternoon teas lead to Sunday Polka mass and affairs with the neighbor.
Jonny Knobel has returned to his childhood town at the request of his father. A long standing tradition of playing in the ‘Notable Knobels’ Polka band has brought Jonny back to Red Vine and life as he once knew it will forever be changed. A recent separation from his self-centred wife, the discovery of his father’s affair and a graduate student researching the mating habits of bees will find Jonny contemplating where it all went wrong. Needing to keep busy, Jonny puts his draftsman’s brain on over drive and has designs on renovating an old grain silo.
Isabel Yancey is a graduate student studying entomology. With her crew of college age students, they embark on a field study of bees and pollination in the town of Red Vine, Minnesota. But feeling more like a chaperone and camp leader, then scientist and researcher, Isabel will find herself attracted to the motel owner’s son-one Jonny Knobel-only she is of the belief that he is still married. Perhaps a change in attitude and appearance will make Jonny remember her name next time they meet. But someone from her past will ensure that Jonny’s eyes look elsewhere.
Lisa’s storyline reads like any small town USA where the citizens remain caught in a world of their own. Parents grow old but their adult children still hold grudges and animosity, passing traditions down that they themselves find dull and dated at times. But judgmental parents and aging traditions are not exclusive to the back woods of Red Vine and neither are the rumors everyone remembers from high school back home.
When Isabel’s grandfather dies, it is Jonny who volunteers to take her back to Chicago. But her wealth and family put Jonny on edge and if the rumors he heard were true Isabel was not the woman for him. Returning to Red Vine, Jonny packs up and heads back home where work and a lawyer’s appointment sit waiting.
Jonny’s sister was missing. She hadn’t been seen for several days, and without thinking, Jonny and his family begin to suspect she ran off with one of Isabel’s students. Realizing the implication of the accusations, Isabel is taken aback, but her concern for the missing young woman is more than Jonny expected, so he headed to Chicago to check on some leads. A week later Wendy would return without explanation and the cycle of life would continue.
Jonny’s grain silo design had won. A prestigious honor in the architectural world, but he had no idea who or how it was entered into the competition. With his divorce final, he headed to Chicago but the prize that awaited him was something he had been waiting for his entire life.
ALL YOUR PRETTY DREAMS is a sweet story that begins slowly- plodding through the daily lives of the Knobel family in Red Vine Minnesota. Lisa McClendon builds up a metaphor of sorts comparing the rhythm of the accordion to the lessons found in life. At times, the story seemed to falter as it got caught up in the monotony of the town, and like the music metaphor, the author would find her rhythm and the tempo would increase. All Your Pretty Dreams is a love story that took almost an entire book to come to realization and in the end two people would find that their heart’s beat to the same rhythm –as one.......
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Posted September 16, 2012
The beauty of this book is its originality, and its sheer inability to be categorized. It's a romance, with its lovers troubled and conflicted and struggling with their feelings, but ultimately, wonderfully in love. It's a coming-of-age story, with characters young as well as old doing so! It's a story of family and values, both not necessarily going hand in hand! It's about accordions and families and infidelities – and the opposite thereof – and bees and grain bins … and more than anything, love – in all of its variations and dimensions.
There are lots of eccentric and lovable characters who both come together and break apart for various reasons in the small town of Red Vine, Minnesota. Some are rich and some are poor – but that all depends on how one defines those adjectives … monetarily or spiritually.
Jonny Knobel comes home to play in his family's polka band and to help his father repair the aging motel owned and run by his father. He's also trying to break away from his estranged wife and all the baggage of a failed marriage. While at home, he meets Isabel Yancy, a graduate student involved in a biology study of bees. They couldn't be more different in their ideals and dreams … you think …??
Lise McClendon is a joy to read. Her stories are unique and inventive … no traditional formulas for her, thank you very much. Her dialogue is witty, her characters multi-dimensional, and her locales so well defined that the visuals replay in your head long after you lay the book down. As with her previous books, ALL YOUR PRETTY DREAMS is a joy to read.
Posted February 24, 2014
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