Chocolate-Covered Cashews, by Wiley Baxter
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
This book is one that leaves one wanting more. In fact, calling it a book may be a bit generous, as there are booklets that I have read far longer than this book. And it is not as if this book is short because there is not a lot to tell. Rather, this is the sort of book that would greatly have benefited by having a co-author who could draw out the stories of the author and put them down comfortably in prose, to take the disconnected anecdotes and form them into a coherent and compelling narrative. To be sure, this little book has a great deal of interest to say, for all of its small length and limited conduct, about the relationship between parents and children and estranged spouses . One only wishes there were a lot more said, a lot more of the gliding assertions replaced by stories, a lot more showing and a lot more telling. To be sure, not everyone is a fluent writer, but this book benefits by the fact that even if its writer is not nearly candid enough, that the story discussed is a compelling one.
The contents of this book follow a fairly typical narrative design, evidence that if the author is not a polished writer, he is certain someone who is familiar with good books. It begins with a story about the author’s purchase of chocolate covered cashews that led to his reconnecting with a daughter he never knew he had, and then the author goes back to his own early life, his own experiences, such as a marriage that broke up because of his wife’s infidelity and his own lack of faith and irresponsibility as a young man, and then a look at the author’s remarriage and frustrated desire for a family and then his re-connection with long-lost twin daughters who were proven to be his by a DNA test, and of whom he is only close to one of at the moment. There is clearly an intent here to tell the author’s side of the story, but the story told is so fragmentary one is only too painfully aware that something is missing, and unsure of what other books or information available would give the rest of the interesting and worthwhile story of which the skeletal remains can be seen here.
At its heart, this is a story of divine providence and in God being gracious to unworthy humanity. It is also a story of the continuing and lingering effects of absence of communication, in the way that it becomes difficult for people to communicate well in the aftermath of long and awkward periods of silence that go on for years. Admittedly, this is a subject of somewhat painful personal relevance , and so on those grounds alone the material of this book prompts deep feeling. One gets the sense that the author has a hard time communicating on paper, has a hard time talking about his feelings, and thus misses a great many opportunities for relating to others and in building rapport with those around him. This book has promise, and is worth reading if only because the story at its core is so quirky and providential and because the author’s problems with communication are so widely applicable to others, but in reality this is a book that is a great deal of missed potential. Here is hoping the author has a chance to expand this material with a skillful co-author, as this is a story worth publishing.
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