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Welcome to the Great Mysterious

Book Reading and Talk
Welcome to the Great Mysterious
Wednesday, Jan. 16
7:30 p.m.
Annie Bloom’s Books
7834 S.W. Capitol Hwy

“Welcome to the Great Mysterious” reads like the newest installment of the Oprah’s Book Club. The book centers on the transformation of a self-professed “diva” from selfish to selfless. This book is no more mysterious than any other formulaic romance novel.

Geneva Jordan is the main character. Geneva is a major star of stage and screen who has no time for anyone. When her twin sister Ann calls to ask her if she will come to Minnesota to babysit she is extremely reluctant. The 13-year-old boy has Down’s syndrome, and his mother and father have not had a vacation alone since he was born. When she is finally roped into caring for the boy it becomes a test of her patience and her egocentricity. Geneva travels from Manhattan to Deep Lake, Minn., leaving behind her unfaithful boyfriend. Predictably, he is replaced with an aww-shucks small town guy.

Eventually, Geneva finds a new meaning for her life when she finds a book called the Great Mysterious. It is a forgotten scrapbook which is also a kind of game devised by Geneva and Ann one rainy pre-teen weekend. The voices of her past, in particular those of a grandmother, open up unresolved feelings for her. The answers to the important questions asked in the Great Mysterious help to guide Geneva as she struggles with the conflicts of her life.

Landvik explores the internal struggle that Geneva goes through when faced with the task of caring for a mentally challenged child. The inner monologue and honesty that she shows is the most redeeming quality of the novel. Caring for a handicapped child is difficult on many levels and Landvik honestly expresses the feelings of frustration that the main character feels.

Landvik has published three previous novels, including “Patty Jane’s House of Curl,” which USA Today called “fun and funny, spiked with tragedy and sad times.” She is also an actress who writes and stars in plays in the Minneapolis area, and says that her “acting experience combined with a love of people may help give her characters distinction.” The only character in “Welcome to the Great Mysterious” that had any distinction at all was Geneva. The rest of the people in the book are flat characters who seem to be there only as decoration.

This book is not on the Oprah list because it is not that good. It aspires to be the kind of book that could carry the O of approval.

Unfortunately for the reader, she is working on her next novel. Landvik says that she has been “writing all of her life, but publishing ‘Patty Jane’s House of Curl’ convinced her it was time to do it full time.” Maybe she should put in a little overtime because this book falls short.