Saturday, 7 December 2013

Bitter Like Orange Peel by Jessica Bell

18086608Title: Bitter Like Orange Peel
Author: Jessica Bell
Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
Released: November 1st 2013
Pages: 179 (eBook)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
Add on Goodreads

Six women. One man. Seven secrets. One could ruin them all.

Kit is a twenty-five-year-old archaeology undergrad, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. Life seems purposeless. But if she could track down her father, Roger, maybe her perspective would change.

The only problem—Roger is as rotten as the decomposing oranges in her back yard according to the women in her life: Ailish, her mother—an English literature professor who communicates in quotes and clichés, and who still hasn’t learned how to express emotion on her face; Ivy, her half-sister—a depressed archaeologist, with a slight case of nymphomania who fled to America after a divorce to become a waitress; and Eleanor, Ivy’s mother—a pediatric surgeon who embellishes her feelings with medical jargon, and named her daughter after "Intravenous."

Against all three women’s wishes, Kit decides to find Roger.
Enter a sister Kit never knew about.
But everyone else did.

What a bloody awful book. I'm sorry, but it has to be said. I've read some bad books in my time, but this is most definitely in the top five. The synopsis held the promise of a novel that wasn't delivered.

The basic premise is a group of six women who all have ties to this one man - to some of them he was a lover, a husband, and to others he was a father - or an absentee one at that. Kit, one of the daughters, is desperate to find out about this man who she has never met, so sets out on a journey to meet him. However, in doing so she unveils a whole load of buried family secrets.

One thing I can't get over is the awful language. It's so unnecessarily vulgar! Swearing I don't really care about, but it was several times per page and it just...why?! There was also constant references to genitalia - just randomly it would say something like "He itched his scrotum and then farted." As the reader, do I really need to know about his itchy balls? No, no I don't. Or - and I actually quote - "A drop of sweat tickles Kit's crotch. She scratches herself and wipes her wet fingers on the carpet beside her thigh." It's highly sexualised for no reason, and eventually it just made me cringe. It also happened at the most random moments - as if the author thought the book was getting a bit too serious so hey, why not have a random sex scene in the middle!

I also didn't connect with the characters. Like, at all. I hated every bloody one of them and their stupid life problems. They were all so selfish, so self-centered, and they all seemed to start crying for no reason. They are the weakest female characters I have ever come across, and I'd just like to point out that if you want to make a character seem 'strong' it doesn't mean making them into temperamental bitches (I think this is the first time I've ever sworn in a review, but it isn't more fitting).

The plot was almost as scatterbrained as the characters. There's going to be serious spoilers here, but it's bloody awful. The initial premise of them finding out about this lost father intrigued me. However, the secrets grew and grew until they were borderline ridiculous. First we meet the "secret" half-sister who one of the sisters conveniently already knew. The second secret we uncover is that the father has had a stroke, so one of the mothers spent a daughters uni fund on making sure he got well again (and when the daughter finds out, she SLAPS the mother! Overreaction Central right here - and it's not as if she'd touched the money for ten years). There is then a subplot of Ivy (the selfish, going-to-slap-my-mother one) having sex with this guy and it turns out he has a wife he's divorcing which he didn't tell her about (oh horror of horrors!) Then Ivy returns to Australia and meets up with HER ex husband and they decide to get remarried (sigh). Then Kit (the indecisive one) finally decides to make a damn decision after 90% of the book and they meet the father. THEN (and this is literally right at the end) Kit's mother accuses the father of molesting Kit when she was a young girl. We're then privy to a really confusing cut scene that tells us f-all about whether this accusation is true or not, and then the book ends. It was one disaster after another, and not only was the ending anticlimactic, but it produced more questions than it answered. 

The title reference to the book was another terrible aspect. The author force fed oranges and orange peel into the storyline - if you cut out all the bits about oranges, the story literally wouldn't change one little bit. It seemed to me as if the story was being written and suddenly the author would turn around and be like "Damn, I haven't written about orange peel in a while! Better make Ailish really upset that her daughter's boyfriend picked the fruit off of their rotting orange tree!" 

Bitter Like Orange Peel is truly terrible. It makes no sense, and I'm really confused as to how books like Harry Potter had a difficult time getting published when there are stories like this out there. If there is one recommendation I have after all of this, it's do not read this book. See it and avoid it, because it is a train wreck. I think Bell meant well, but it just went horribly wrong.
Rating: 1/5

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