1 out of 4 stars
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Without a prologue or an introduction, Quarter Mile by Deborah Cutchall plunges the reader into the chaotic life of Robert, a divorcé with two adult children: Steven and Sarah. One night, Officer Hays and Officer Johnson accidentally ram Steven's car outside of Robert's home, leaving Steven unconscious and severely injured. After an aggressive altercation between Robert's family and the officers in question, everyone convenes at the hospital where it is discovered that Steven is comatose, on life support, and likely a quadriplegic now. When Carol, Steven's wife, skips town, Sarah is left to raise Steven's two kids in addition to her own. Meanwhile, Robert discovers Steven's secret identity as a drag-racer, the main sport of their small town, and determines to carry on his son's work.
It is a challenge to summarize this book due to the fact that it is often difficult to tell what is happening in the story. Most of the book is written in nonsensical, borderline indecipherable, sentences, leaving the reader immersed in a cloud of confusion. For example, when Officer Hays and Officer Johnson are at some type of racing event in town, they stop to look at some merchandise. After they briefly discuss the selection of t-shirts available, the narrative states that they "both flirted onto the hot items as well as pit pass" (loc 132). Additionally, in the moments before Officer Hays and Officer Johnson collide with Steven's car, they witness some teenagers playing basketball in the cul-de-sac where Robert's house is located. Here, the narrative indicates that "Johnson foreseen a hoop basketball portable twelve feet from the cruiser three teenagers jumping into it as playtime making hard conjoins comments between boys" (262). Although brief, these excerpts exemplify the grammatically incorrect and confusing language of the book. Consequently, it is only through extensive backtracking and rereading that the reader can piece together what is happening in the story.
In addition to grammatically incorrect language, the narrative also seems to use made-up words such as "knitching" (loc 172) and "medipour" (262). Extensive research on my part yielded no definitions for these terms, although they did make vague sense in the context of their respective sentences. For example, "medipour" seems to be used in place of "medium" in the following sentence: "Glen Johnson looks at him, toasting at a medipour distance." Likewise, "knitching" seems to be used in place of "knitting" as Sarah is "knitching her brows." If these words are legitimate through some non-mainstream mode of language that I could not find, I would recommend that the author define them via footnotes or a glossary.
My final concern with this book is the abruptness with which the story switches from one location to the next. For example, loc 246 finds Robert and Sarah playing with baby Cynthia in the kitchen. Halfway through the page, however, the narrative suddenly switches to the police cruiser where Hays and Johnson are apparently in pursuit of a suspect. This lack of transition recurs through the book and only serves to make it more confusing.
Quarter Mile was extremely difficult to read because so much of the writing felt like nonsense. Even the few sentences that did make immediate sense were riddled with grammatical errors. Although I wanted to be interested in the plot and characters, the issues I have listed above made the book so confusing that it felt like a chore to read. I am giving this book 1 out of 4 stars. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book to any reader.
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