Among the aspects of scrapbooking I’ve always appreciated is the creator’s ability to shape reality.
When I’m choosing subject matter, I can emphasize happy moments and minimize — or entirely omit — ugly ones.
When I’m cropping photos, I can crop out my fat thighs.
When I’m adding a caption, I can be the clever girl I never manage to be in person.
In the end, all the disparate pieces and parts of my life fit neatly into a scrapbook page with the perfect background and pretty embellishments.
It’s all a little too neat and sweet.
It’s well paced and I enjoyed most of the characters, and I even found tears welling up in my eyes as certain emotional moments played out.
So I liked it.
But I don’t believe it.
An heiress runs away from her controlling family to become … a plumber? Really?
A woman whose husband leaves her and impregnates another woman before he dies suddenly …. becomes friends with her dead husband’s mistress? Really?
The town’s eccentric scrapbooking saleswoman is still going strong … at 77? Sorry, no. I’m a scrapbooker. I worked for a scrapbooking company. I’ve attended hundreds of scrapbooking workshops. And I know how heavy scrapbooking supplies are. Seventy-seven-year-olds pushing paper packs and albums are rare indeed.
I picked up Gee’s work as part of a virtual book club, some members of which wanted to revitalize their desire to scrapbook. On that point, Gee succeeds in describing the creative process; one character is inspired to turn bottle caps into jewelry and another — a bartender — attempts to write a book about an astronomer.
It’s all cute and described delightfully, but I’m not sure the town of Avalon and its scrapbookers made me want to get creative. The novel is a fun distraction. Sort of like scrapbooking.