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The Upper Room

The Upper Room - Mary Monroe Plot:

From the description The Upper Room sounds like it is going to be an interesting read with a Christian slant.    Which is what I expected from an author whose most famous books are part of a series entitled "God Don't Like Ugly".  The Upper Room is not Christian fiction by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I don't know what genre to even place it in.

This was not what I was expecting, in a bad way.  I thought I was getting the book in the description the tale of a women stealing a baby she once thought was dead.  It is and it isn't.  It's really hard to put into words what The Upper Room is about because I am/was so confused.  Instead, of a heartfelt story about a women  wanting a child so much that she is willing to steal her best friends baby, The Upper Room  is about a crazy, overweight serial killer, who just happened to steal the baby girl she always wanted but never had.

I had gotten to less than 100 pages into the novel when I wen back to re-read the description.  I even went back and re-read the reviews, just to see make sure I  was reading the right book.  After reading the reviews, I figured that somehow I wasn't getting it.  Everyone else seemed to think this book was funny. The star rating was 4 and above.  I wondered if Mary Monroe was using some form of satire that was just going over my head.  I did not find this book funny or even mildly entertaining.

Characters:
There is a whole cast of crazy characters.  Characters that I often confused with one another.

The main character, Mama Ruby claims to be a God fearing, Christian with the devil on her coattails.  In reality, the devil is on her left shoulder with direct access to her whenever he wants it.  She kills people (lots of them) needlessly with out not provocation. If someone wants to collect a debt she kills them, if someone calls her a name she kills them.  She kills anyone and everyone, claiming that they were trying to rape her and she had to "chastize" them.  She is also and alcoholic and is morbidly obese.  Her only redeeming qualities are the she loves her children and if you stay on her good side she is a great friend.

The daughter that she kidnapped, Maureen, was a underdeveloped.  All she wanted to do was live her life, which would only be possible if she could escape Mama Ruby, who has no intention of letting her go, ever.  I really wish Monroe would have done more with Maureen characters.  Yes, she knew that her mother was a "little" crazy, but she turned a blind eye to her antics, instead pretending that she did not know what was going on.

The characters that I liked the most were Virgil, Mama Ruby's son, and Black Jack, Virgil's friend.  They were the most believable out of all the characters.  They were the only two people that would say that Mama Ruby was crazy and that Maureen needed to run as far away from her as possible.

Writing:

Mary Monroe's writing style is engaging but her writing couldn't cover up what a hot mess this book was.

There were jumps in time without any indication that time had passed.  One minute Maureen is a baby, then next she is five, then she is 18.  It was confusing and took me out the flow of the story often.

Monroe wasn't consistent and her ages were off.  At one point I pulled out a calculator to figure out how old everyone was and it didn't match.

The dialogue was unbelievable.  I understand that the characters are from the south and that because of regional accents some words would have different pronunciations but who was "V-Eight Nam" or "so-wee-side"

I have tons of highlights with notes that way "!!!What???"  or "WTF".

The person that edited The Upper Room should be ashamed of themselves.

Overall Recommendation:

I would not recommend this book to anyone.  That being said, I am looking forward to reading the prequel, Mama Ruby, which was written about 20 years after The Upper Room.  I have heard that it is a much better book and show Monroe's growth as an author.  I am also looking forward to reading The God Don't Like Ugly series which I have heard good thing about, also.  Apparently, Monroe suffered from a bad case of "horrible" debut syndrome with The Upper Room and her other works are much better.