Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jeri Bittle by J. Rose Knight

Jeri BittleI fell in love with the cover of this book and when I was presented with an opportunity to read it, I jumped at the chance. 

What I liked: The heroine is getting a string of hard knocks, from her dad's open heart surgery to a car wreck to her husband's death, debt up to her eyeballs, fires... Whereas most women would end up crying, screaming, or possibly being institutionalized, Jeri just keeps going. She does what she can to solve the mystery surrounding her husband's death and pre death antics, save her ranch, and provide for her little girls. 

The mystery involves dirty people in authority, poker games, real estate, and cattle rustling. I liked Sheriff Roy and his wife, Arlene. I liked the way everything tied together and I found myself nodding and saying, "Yep, I can see this happening in small town, bored Wyoming.

However, it could have used more tweaking on the fine details of law enforcement.. Example: I don't care who you are or how high up on the political chain, you don't just waltz to the local sheriff's house and declare his arrest without a warrant in hand. 

A tiny irritation: When people were conversing on the phone, how did the bystanders around them know what the unseen (on the end of the line individual was saying?)

Also, more emotion from the characters could have been injected. 

Those are minor quibbles. I said above that I basically liked the heroine, Jeri. However, there is one thing that really bothered me about this book. I am deaf and I am not ashamed of it. There is a character in this novel, Bob, who rescues Jeri more than once. Bob is deaf and mute. He was left at a recreation area at age eleven and some farmer found him and (Supposedly he didn't know there was such a thing as Child Protective Services. I didn't think WY was that backwards!) took him home, put him in the barn, and turned him into his own personal ranch hand. Bob did not get educated, but he is NOT dumb.

Upon first meeting him, the very first second Jeri realized he was deaf, she thinks he's deaf and dumb. Deaf and dumb go hand in hand twice in the novel. Bob is actually far from dumb. He saves animals and provides basic medical care to people in need. That's not a dumb person. Throughout the novel, Jeri begins to see Bob in a new light, but constantly thinks to herself, "he's so good looking and intelligent. If only he could hear.." and things of that nature.. She thinks Bob can never provide for a woman because he is handicapped. (His deafness if a deal breaker for this chic.) The "if only he could hear" thing comes up more than once. I wanted to scream at her. Bob is not the one who needs fixing!! It's everyone else's attitude towards Bob! What is wrong with his not being able to hear? That should not make him an unattractive person.

As a deaf person, I was bothered by this and would have liked to have the Bob issue resolved... a happy ending for him or more acceptance of him by the time I turned the last page. The ending left the possibility hanging.. but I still didn't feel good about Jeri's attitude towards him at that point.

Two stars. I received this from the publisher.

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