Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ellen Harger


The cover was plain but in the typical cartoon style of 'chick lit', the title was nice and large as was the author name. I liked the title. It was simple, yet appealed. I was put off by 'a midwest novel' tag on the microphone but only because being from the UK I felt I might feel excluded from urban slang and so forth (I wasn't).

In the blurb I'm introduced to the main character, Whitney, who is average in just about everything. But she wants to change. She's tired of being average. What I liked about the blurb is that there wasn't any mention of 'she wants a man'.

The 'look inside' was disappointing. I like to get to the hub of the book to see if it's something I can read and hopefully download, but first I had to scroll through the three pages of TOC, then the blurb again, then the introduction and prologue (which wasn't very interesting).

The book (finally) opens introducing the alter ego of Whitney - DJ Kelly Carter. Kelly is bright, outgoing and full of energy. Whitney prefers to fade into the background. Already it's different to the normal 'chick lit' novels and I feel this is going to be an interesting read...

The chapter titles were song titles and very apt for Whitney's profession. Clever, I thought. Whitney is a nervy lady but her alter-ego (the DJ)  is not. She has a nice set of friends in Sadi, Leah and Marc. There was good characterisation with the characters but Whitney should have been centre-stage for most of the time. She's wasn't, and at times I wondered whose story I was reading.

Strong Enough takes you through the dynamics of friendships, and the humour is subtle but Whitney as a character is someone you'd want to slap. She's so suspicious of everyone's intentions and beyond. I did sometimes wonder how she managed to keep such a strong friendship going with the feisty Sadi.

Over all, the book focuses on the loves and lives of several women: Whitney, Sadi and Leah with a few others not too central to the book, it's a fun read. Not too heavy and with many laughs dotted around. It has some clever shocks where the author lures you into thinking you know a character but then that character turns out to be a nasty piece of work.

I wasn't drawn into the book though, and I couldn't put my finger on the problem. There was no editing issues, and the storyline was all there. The characters didn't always gel together and maybe that was the issue. They seemed, at times, to be unlikely friends.

I awarded it a high three out of five. 


Starting over is hard. And sometimes, you have to burn a few bridges to do it.

Whitney Brown is average--average height, weight, and personality--but she wants to be someone new. To kick-start her rebirth, she wears formal mourning, a black veil and vintage dress, to a wedding in her hometown, Woods Cross, a community that treasures family values. Is it an attack on marriage or has she just gone bonkers?

Emboldened but lacking a plan, she forces her foot in the door of a radio station in Sundown. A small metropolis of nearly 150,000, Sundown is a notch of urban flair along the Midwest's Bible Belt.

Getting in proves to be the easy part and the anonymity of being a DJ suits her well. But off air (and in person), Whitney must stand up to Sadi, an angry feminist and the bane of her college years while an old friendship with her former roommate, Leah, devolves around a guy. 

It's 2002 and the Midwest radio scene is changing. Just as Whitney hits her groove, the radio station undergoes its own identity crisis. But what rocks Whitney to her core is the moment the condom breaks. Her abstinence only background leaves her embarrassed and facing a difficult choice.