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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

This week’s review is a bit of a change from my normal reviews. This week, I will be reviewing two books at the same time. Love, Greed and Lies and The Lost Twin were both written by D.W. Harper, a local author who has included her hometown as a setting in both books. Since the second book is a clear continuation of the first, I decided to review them together. For a second week, the books have been loaned to me in order to give a local flair to my reviews. As always, I’m up for reading new books, especially when the author and/or setting is local.

To start, the author has included a short historical synopsis of historical significance to the story at the beginning of each book. I know it’s probably a nit-picky thing, but there is an error in her historical notes that just drives me crazy every time I read it. The Green Street Trestle (AKA “Upside-Down Railroad Bridge”), was NOT built that way in order to impede traffic on the canal.

At 48 feet of clearance, the railroad bridge has the highest clearance of any bridge on the entire Erie Canal. Pine Street is 3 ½ feet closer to the water than this bridge, and the lift bridges clear the water only by slightly less than 17 feet. At the time the railroad bridge was completed, the old bridges at Exchange street had a clearance of nearly 24 feet. So, the truth is that the Green Street trestle was not built “upside-down” to impede canal traffic. Now that I have that off my chest….

In 1931, Rose and Albert Sterling discover that Rose is pregnant for the fourth time, well after they felt they were finished having children. Prior to the pregnancy, they felt they were finally financially stable after years of living paycheck to paycheck. This new arrival would thrust their financial difficulties back into the spotlight and reopen old wounds. However, when Rose goes into labor, it is discovered that she is actually having twins. With heavy hearts, they decide that they cannot support yet another child, and instead give up the second daughter for adoption.

Identical twins, living in the same city each with their own families, unfathomably never meet. They grow up in stark contrast to each other. Emma Jean, who was raised by Rose and Albert, lived in relative poverty. Gloria, after being placed in foster care and living a rough beginning to life, finds a loving couple to live with and becomes rather successful.

It’s said that environment plays a big part in the personality of the person. In this case, Emma Jean’s daughter, Alice, struggles with mental issues, ultimately suffering from what seems to be schizophrenia.She believes everyone is plotting against her and will do anything to keep up her own image of self-import.

The story from Love, Green and Lies continues with The Lost Twin. The focus shifts to the next generation of children, in particular Kayla and Layla, the twin daughters of Alice. Layla seems to suffer from the same mental illness as her mother. She believes that people are out to steal her sister, Kayla away from her, and she will do anything to prevent that. Every choice she makes is derived from this sickness. She rarely has any guilt associated with her actions. In the end , it could destroy everything she knows and loves.

When I first began Love Greed and Lies I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the book. There is not a lot of description and the dialogue seems strained. However, after I read more in the first book, I got more into it. The author writes it as if a grandmother or mother were retelling  their life story to a grandchild, or child.  There is a cadence in her writing that overcomes an inherent weakness in description. The result is a folksie tale that is fun to read and gripping. The pages almost turn on their own.

It’s fun to read about familiar areas, especially some places so recognizable. The books travel throughout Lockport, Rochester, and Wilson. Probably my biggest complaint about the books is actually rather small. Some of the dialogue is quite forced, and a little over-explanation. An example of this is when a couple are talking about a new cottage on the lake. In casual conversation, instead of just saying “Wilson,” they say “Wilson, New York.” The author needs to give her reader enough credit to understand where the story takes place without having to remind them.

Overall, these two books, Love, Greed and Lies and The Lost Twin, were wonderful books. The down-home feeling and plain speak from the characters will keep you entertained. What it lacks in description and dialogue, it more than makes up in charm. The story is very interesting over several generations in Lockport.

These books would not likely be books I’d pick up off the shelf. They were loaned to me with the intentions of having a review written. After reading both books, I can honestly say that these books were well worth the time it took to read them. They were engaging and thought provoking. If and when D.W. Harper writes another book,  I will be sure to grab it for a third good read.

+Craig Bacon loves Lockport. He thinks there should be more books written that are set in and around our city. If you agree, let him know on Twitter at @hippieboy73.

East Niagara Post is the official media sponsor of Hockey Day in Lockport.


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