A Better Place To Be:
Based on the Harry Chapin Song
That word just comes to mind over and over, in regards to this book, along with the phrase, heart-wrenching. It’s good though – incredibly, in a makes-you-feel-things-and-think-things brilliantly good.
Upon first meeting John, he’s likable enough. He soon turns out to be sweet and the reader would have to be dead to not feel his love for Claire – and it is mutual. So the two of them have this great, comfortable thing…until tragedy strikes. Then the reader is treated to a gut-wrenching, realistic, accurate view of what happens all too often to too many people. I doubt there’s a person alive who cannot relate to this… Still, Wind puts it all so simply and so realistically, it’s like nothing i’ve ever read or am likely to read again.
Not only does he repeatedly rip out my heart and stomp all over it – and I like it somehow, so apparently I’m some kind of sadist – but he perfectly portrays a good – better than average actually- man turning into completely something different, as a result of the bulls— that life has thrown at him. It’s fascinating to see someone on a downward spiral with such detail and realism and it made me think… you just never know what people have been through, in order to end up what/who/where they are. It prompted thinking about other things as well, annoying, hot-button issues like the medical care situation in America – but that’s a conversation for somewhere else.
Portrayal of John trying to crawl his way back into being a contributing member of society, and before that, even working to figure out whether that’s what he wanted, seems accurate. The help he receives from a brilliant doctor and even the rulings from a fair judge instill thoughts of something like, ‘This is how it should be in a perfect world… rehabilitating people, not just locking them up, necessarily.’
Point is, if you want a book that’s real and will make you think, this is the one.
If you don’t want to think but like a book that’ll give you all the feels, this is also the one. It’s well detailed with perfect continuity.
I’ve now read several very different genres in Wind’s voice and all are amazing; he has this rare, raw talent, to write anything, I think.
And did I mention it’s based on a song? ‘A Better Place to Be’ by Harry Chapin, a song that’ll never be the same for me. It seems completely natural as if the book IS the song and the song IS the book. Brilliantly perfect.
ALL the stars. All of them. Wow.
J. Lacie Redding, Reviewer
Review: A Better Place To Be
A Better Place to Be by David Wind is inspired by the folk-rock song of the same name by legendary singer-songwriter-storyteller Harry Chapin. This exquisitely-written novel pays homage to the song while creating a detailed back story and character study. It makes sense that a novel would emanate from a Chapin song given the short story nature of much of the late artist’s portfolio. In the book, lead character John Edghes’ life spirals downward on a long, excruciating, painful journey after life deals him a devastating blow.
The author gets deep inside the mind and soul of John as he paints a realistic portrait of a man’s descent into despair and his struggle to reclaim functionality in the real world. It’s a long, agonizing, but compelling ordeal that paints a stark portrait of the rocky road to recovery and wholeness. After a stint of homelessness, John finds himself waking up in a rehab center, injured and in trouble with the law. He is kept there under close observation and receives intensive therapy, both mental and physical. It is here that John is forced to confront his reality. The realistic novel does not sugarcoat this. It is an uphill battle filled with pitfalls, false starts, and relapses.
John goes to really dark places, as people do in reality when they are alone and depressed. However, flickers of light manage to find their way into John’s life literally and figuratively. The author uses symbolism sparingly but potently to reflect this: “But that didn’t matter because it created just enough shadows in the dust motes drifting around the room to keep his mind off the dark thoughts that shut out the weak light entering the room.” “The darkness was almost complete. The only light came from a few yellow shafts leeching around the edges of the tightly-pulled shade as the sun did its best to chase away the night.”
The reader hopes that John will let some of this light that is determined to find its way into the room with the drawn shades into his life.
Note: The novel can stand alone without being familiar with the song, but I think it’s a good idea to listen to it.—-Piper Templeton, bookscover2cover.com
Review: A Better Place To Be
Originally written for “Books and Pals” book blog.
As the description and cover make clear, this book is based on the Harry Chapin song of the same name. Yeah, you know, Harry Chapin. The guy who wrote Taxi (no, not the TV thing with Danny DeVito, the song). Don’t know that song? How about Cat’s in the Cradle? I guess mentioning 30,000 Pounds of Bananas or W.O.L.D would be pointless. Potential readers of this book are going to fall into two camps. The kids (okay, middle-aged adults) who have no clue who Harry Chapin is and are clueless about the songs he wrote and sung, and those like me, who can still remember the sick feeling he got 36+ years ago when my brother-in-law told me Harry had died that day in a car crash.
For you kids, Harry Chapin’s pop-folk songs were story songs. His first big hit, Taxi, packed more oomph than an average novel in a touch shy of seven minutes and, despite being twice as long as a typical radio-ready song of the day, it managed to become a hit.
The author received permission to include the lyrics to A Better Place to Be in his book. He does this by using snippets at various points in the story along with including complete lyrics at the end.
For those not familiar with the song, I think you’ll like the book if this is the kind of story you’d normally go for. It’s a good story of a life that goes off the rails and of eventually getting things back on track. After reading it, find the song and give it a listen. I’d guess the odds are good it will remind you of the book.
For those already familiar with the song, all of the above might still apply. Or it might not. I suspect it depends on how you feel about this particular song. Most stories require the reader to fill in the gaps to some degree. A song that tells a story or even one without a story, but that makes some kind of point, requires the listener to fill in even more gaps. I found myself struggling with how the author filled in some of the gaps here, because that’s not what I imagined was going on in those blank spaces. The author’s interpretation wasn’t wrong, just different. If this is one of your favorite songs of all time, my advice would be that you might want to stay away. I’m glad I read this, not only because it is a good story, but also because it got me thinking about these things. Now if someone were to write a book based around some of Chapin’s other songs (Taxi springs to mind) I might steer clear. I guess I’d summarize my thoughts by saying that even though I’d probably be perceived as smackdab in middle of the target audience for this book, that my feelings about it are mixed.—- Big Al, “Books and Pals”book blog.
A Better Place To Be
“I didn’t know the Harry Chapin song before this but, having read several of his previous books, I do know David Wind to be a good writer. So I jumped to read this new release, and I was well rewarded.
A Better Place to Be is different from Wind’s sci-fi/fantasy and thrillers, and reveals yet another facet of this author. John’s story is told in a way that is human, caring, and insightful. I found myself suffering along with the character and willing him to make it through his long journey.
Thank you, David Wind, not only for writing a memorable story, but for introducing me to Harry Chapin.” L.B.
ANGELS IN MOURNING
I’d never had the pleasure of reading any of David Wind’s 33 previous novels, but when I finished his latest novel, Angels in Mourning, I made a vow to go back and read the rest of this very talented writer’s work. Angels’ immensely likeable private investigator protagonist Gabriel Storm (if you think that’s a great name, wait until you read his assistant’s moniker!) had been falsely imprisoned for many years for the murder of his beloved fiancée, stage actress Elaine Hall. While Storm lingers in prison, only two people believe in his innocence, playwright Scotty Granger and police captain Christopher Bolt. Through much steadfast determination, Bolt and Granger eventually win Storm’s acquittal. So when Granger is found viciously murdered in what was clearly a crime of passion, Storm is on a mission to find and bring his murderer to justice. Of course, the more Storm investigates Granger’s network, the more he realizes that many people could have wanted him dead. Was it one of the greedy hangers-on who have invested in Granger’s new play? Was it a jilted ex? Was it a slimy human-trafficker, or worse yet a pedophilic politician? Who can Granger trust? The Homeland Security agent who may or may not be on the up and up? His own new girlfriend who seems to show up every time someone tries to kill him? I thought I had the case solved by midway through the book, but in reality I’d taken Wind’s subtle bait and was way off track.
I will admit I’m a bit of a literature snob, but Wind’s narrative not only left my intelligence intact, he did a magnificent job of drawing me into Storm’s pleasantly-seedy New York. For instance:
The Westside diner was slow…a throwback from the forties. You know the type, all chrome and vinyl with a checkerboard black and white floor. Old and faded pictures of New York lined the walls. It was a cholesterol heaven of pies, muffins, and greasy donuts heaped in scratched plastic covered trays on the counter. Five big chrome coffee urns, like missile silos, were lined against one wall. A rectangular cut-out separated the dining room from the kitchen. Every sound made in the kitchen reached the eating area.
It takes a lot for a work of fiction to impress me but Angels did just that. David Wind has much respect for his readers and it shows. — Kelly Davis
Monica Silberman’s review:
I read this when it first came out and just re-read it. I’m not a big fan of the hard boiled detective stories, but this one was very different. It was contemporary and it’s main protagonist was really well done. He was hard where he was supposed to be, and warm at exactly the right times. His sidekick is-(you have to read about the sidekick) The plot was well paced and there were several spots that caught me completely off-guard. The ending, well…. it was surprising and great!
A complex and highly intelligent detective story, David Wind’s latest novel demands your attention and pays off big time. Tightly written and intricately plotted, ANGELS IN MOURNING will leave you wanting more—and there’s plenty to choose from among Wind’s thirty-three previous works. Finding such a talented, prolific writer is a mixed blessing: So much to catch up on, and so little time!
— Ken Isaacson Author of the amazon.com #4 best seller, SILENT COUNSEL. Visit Ken Isaacson’s website
Angels in Mourning is a complex and fascinating story with a real surprise at the end.
— Roberta Gellis, best selling author of the Magdalene La Bârtarde Mysteries.
Queen Of Knights
This book was not what I was expecting – it was better. I love knights and the legends that have grown around them and this book did not disappoint. The opening pages took me to a place I rarely visit, the fantasy area of my mind. Overall, this historical fantasy kept be wrapped within the story through every single page. The protagonists were well drawn and interesting, the places intriguing and the story perfectly crafted. I recommend this one for everyone.—M.S.
A refreshing story of good conquering evil
It is a different spin for a traditional type of story in the time era of the crusades. Also it is a fun mix of fantasy, historical figures and literary figures. — Theodore l Bessey
Sweeping saga of a love that defies war and death. Romantic, epic, powerful.
Bought it years ago, when it first came out. But I made my husband download it on his Kindle for me — Laura P. Castoro “Laura Castoro — author” (AR)
Read Queen of Knights when it first came out and loved it. Now that I have a tablet Iwanted to load it so I could read it again whenever I wanted. — SUSAN HOLVE
“Historical Fiction and Fantasy…Outstanding!”
— Andre Norton
“An Unusual Fantasy in which history and fiction dances to the Author’s piping.”
— Roberta Gellis
The Hyte Maneuver:
ALA Booklist (American Library Association)
“…This excellent thriller is enhanced by by the careful detail with which police investigatory procedures are described, by the presence of a sharp protagonist in Hyte, and by more than a few clever plot twists….” — WL
“…Half Thriller, Have whodunit, not half bad… Nicely handled stereotypes, from people to places to emotions…. Biggest asset is Hyte, who wears well enough to become a series hero.”
This type of thriller is not usually the kind of thing I would read, but knowing David Wind’s work – I took a shot – WOW! I only wish he had written a sequel so I could spend another weekend just reading about Raymond Hyte.
“Let Yourself Be Drawn In… Never much of a fan of science fiction, I was more than pleasantly surprised by David Wind’s “Infinity’s Doorway.” Well written, with excellent character development. This novel draws you in and leads you on a journey with breathtaking surprises, dangerous enemies, and loyal friends. I definitely recommend reading and sharing this book!”
I got this book as a present, and with it’s scary cover, I thought I wouldn’t like it. But as it turned out, it became one of my favorite books. It has a lot of elements combined–science fiction, romance, paranormal… and definitely makes an interesting read! I love the plot, the abilities of the characters, and of course, the ending. I highly recommend it!
I read this book thinking that it would be some kind of science fiction book that was like every other book out, but it’s not. It has a lot more. It has romance, war, and a little bit of immorality. It’s a great book to read. I read it in 3 hours just because I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this book for teenagers or older for they will get the terminology that is used.
Since I love Parallel world stories, this was perfect for me. The author took a story line that has been done in several versions and turned it into something special. I have followed this writer for many years, and I like the way he builds a character and tells a story. This book was no exception, another strong book by a strong writer!
… Wind mostly confirms prejudices about venal, avaricious lawyers and real estate agents, but does so in a well oiled melodrama that should make good beach reading.
“…CO-OP will keep you on the edge of your chair until the explosive finish which has everyone running for their lives” — Maria C. Ferrer