REVIEW: Jettie Woodruff's All for Maddie is a compelling yet difficult read
I'll be quite honest with you and say this was one of the most difficult books I've read in a long time. Usually I'm drawn in by the characters, I tend to choose books where I'll at least like, if not love, the main characters - and perhaps consider them almost like friends if it's a good series. I can't say that I liked either of the main protagonists of All for Maddie by Jettie Woodruff. Neither Whitley nor Alex were people I really wanted to know - or even get to know.
Yes, Whitley has a tough life. She's a single mom, working for her father at his resort, and raising her almost four-year-old daughter alone though with support from her dad and step-mom. It's quite clear from the introduction that the Maddie's conception was rough, if not rape, and that Whitley at the time was practically a child herself at just seventeen. So I decided to cut her some slack and keep reading, even though my first inclination was to close the pages and skip the book.
Alex is introduced as someone from Whitley's past - and it's soon clear he's Maddie's father and that she's born from essentially almost-a-date rape, really more like party-hook-up rape, But whatever the circumstances no means no. And having been in the shoes of a slightly inebriated and innocent 18-year-old my first semester at college and almost getting forced into something I didn't want, my sympathy was with Whitley. But her present demeanor, her now drunken sexual promiscuity, and her selfishness - even though the author's intent seems to be "everything for Maddie" - soon burnt through the sympathy I felt for her.
Alex now seems like the upstanding citizen, but once he realizes Maddie's his daughter he becomes controlling. Not so different from that young man who drugged a girl's drink at a party. When he has sex with a red-haired someone at their shared home, I found myself wanting to close the book and not reopen it. Even though they're not sleeping together - he's still trying to get it on with Whitley, he brings someone else home to his bed for her to walk in on. I just went ick. And she had already done the same to him on a trip home to see her dad with one of the kitchen workers - with Alex walking in on that. Nice folks. Not.
So, why did I keep reading. I'm not really sure except Woodruff is a really good writer. I'm not going into more detail nor will I reveal if there is a HEA for these dysfunctional souls, but I wanted to give you all fair warning that this is a very difficult book. Do I feel like I gained anything in the two hours it took me to read through it? Perhaps. Am I still pondering why Woodruff would choose to write this story? Absolutely. Would I recommend you read it? No, probably not.
I do know that it's not just Alex and Whitley who are dysfunctional in this picture, but Alex's married sister Reagan, who is Whitley's partner in drunken binges at the biker bar (the bikers in this story come off the best of any of the characters). Reagan's husband who spends more time checking out Whitley's ass than any other interaction through the entire novel. And the namesake of the title, Maddie, who, I'm guessing, is going to be one spoiled rotten, uncontrollable child in a few years. Sure she comes off cute, but cute wears off and there doesn't seem to be much more than a manipulative character behind her actions, I'm sorry to report.
I know that my review will probably be harsher than most, but I'm being honest and expressing my personal opinion about the story. If I were to review this on the basis of writing style, it would be quite good. Woodruff kept my attention even though at times I wished she hadn't - and kept me turning the pages too.
So to balance a dysfunctional and unpleasant sort-of "love" story there is solid writing and for that I'm awarding one star to All for Maddie by Jettie Woodruff.
Fab Fantasy Fiction
I received an eARC from the author's representative for use in this review.