Oops, my bad. I read Friendswood by Rene Steinke way back before Christmas, but didn’t write down my thoughts. I know I thought something about it. Ok, here we go, I’m going to try to reconstruct my thoughts.
What I do remember about Friendswood is that I liked it a fair bit. It was an Erin Brockovich kind of story of a lone woman trying to take down a local oil company for the toxic sludge that has resulted in sky rocketing cancer rates in her community. If that’s not enough, there is also a parallel plot line focusing on the sexual assault and shaming of a high school girl.
I know, it sounds like a lot. And it is. At times I felt as though the two threads of the story were completely unrelated. Each was rich enough to sustain a novel on its own. That is my only complaint about the novel. In spite of this, there are moments of pure brilliance in Friendswood. It is a book that comes close to perfection, but doesn’t quite achieve it.
Who would like this book? For me the hook was that Friendswood is a real town in Texas that has gone through pretty much what Steinke is writing about. The setting is true, but the characters and their foibles are fictions placed in the toxic environment of Friendswood. I also really enjoyed the tension shown between the captial C Christians of the town, and those less religiously inclined. I will be following this up with Steinke’s Holy Skirts sometime soon.