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Book Review: "The Reluctant Blogger" by Ryan Rapier

Aug 9, 2013 • 0 comments • 697 views
"Dr. Schenk, I don’t know if what I’ve written amounts to a breakthrough or not, but I hope you know how difficult this was for me. I also hope this proves how serious I am.
Todd knows he is in a bad place. That’s why he went to a therapist in the first place, and that alone took a lot of doing. So when Dr. Schenk threatens to stop their sessions unless Todd puts in more effort, he grasps at the last available straw: a personal blog that will force Todd to confront his demons.
Ever since he lost his wife, Todd has not been the same. He’s been forced to Single Adult activities at church, and everyone seems to expect him to just forget Marci and get married again—especially when he meets Emily, who makes him smile and starts to bring him out of his depression. But dating again is hard when Todd has three kids of his own, not to mention an overbearing father and friends with their own problems."
Just by the cover and title alone, I figured that this novel would be filled with loads of sarcasm and humorous moments that would have me rolling on the ground in laughter for days. Although The Reluctant Blogger did have its extremely funny moments and incidents that mostly everyone could relate to, the book took on more of a serious appeal than I would have expected. The events and situations that caused Todd to make the decisions he did are sometimes heartbreaking, funny and even upsetting; the moment he decided not see the one person who'd made the loss of his wife a little more bearable; the unexpected date with the woman he'd once likened to the seed of Chuckie; bonding with his hard headed father; and standing by a friend who finally came to terms with himself.
There are also a bunch of characters in this book that I've come to adore and some that I can't begin to even understand. Todd, despite his many losses and stumbles, didn't for a second prove to be a one demensional character; readers saw his persona majorly develop through the hurdles life threw at him. There's also Kevin, one of Todd's best friends, who had struggled with his sexuality for a long time and finally came out of the closet. Todd's reaction to one of the closest people in his life being gay is so realistic. He, being brought up as a Mormon, believes strongly that homosexuality is a sin and shuns his friend at first. After he gets a wake up call from both  Dr. Schenk and his other close friend, he returns to Kevin's side with intentions to help him in any way he can. However, I couldn't come to like two particular characters - Todd's daughter, Alex, and his other best friend, Jason. When Todd finally begins to come out of his depressive state thanks to dating Emily, Alex feels inadequate and retaliates by demanding Todd gets rid of Emily. And he complies! I can't tell you how much my blood boiled at that part. I mean, he had a good thing going for him and because of his daughter's spoiled behavior and insecurity he almost lost the best thing that had happened to him since his wife's death. Okay, I don't fully blame Alex as much as I do Todd. He's the parent and shouldn't have complied to a fifteen year old's demands. Even the therapist was outraged when Todd told him what he'd done. Jason is another character I didn't fully understand. He, being a hot headed guy, skips out on stability so that he could pursue the type of person he wants to be and not what his society wishes to mold him into. While I do respect that, persons like Jason are unpredictable and because of that hurt the people around them. For example because of the type of person Jason is, he has a bad relationship with his children and hurts both Tiffany (his ex wife) and Kimberly (his soon-to-be ex wife). 
Regardless of feeling a deep connection with the issues brought up in this novel and even feeling empathetic towards some of its characters, I can't deny that I did struggle to reach the end of this well-written book. The story is written in a very formal way from Todd's point of view and occassionally switches to his therapists thoughts. However, writting in such a formal manner sometimes puts a damper on the flow of the story. I found that I had to put in a serious effort just to reach the middle of the book. On the other hand, I really liked the fact that Todd spewed his trials and tribulations to readers through a blog. It's super creative of the author even though it took me awhile to realize that the blog was named "Todd's Landry List".
Another aspect of the book that I just had to admire was that although the characters are Mormon, they don't ever come over as pious at all as most would like to believe. Instead, they challenge, doubt, inspect and dote upon their religion and compare it to their individual values. But at the end of the day they still rely on their religion to be a stronghold when things get tough.
In all, The Reluctant Blogger shows that even though times appear tough now and you feel that your about to go over the edge, family and friends are always there to catch you. And if all else fails, there's always therapy.
RYAN RAPIER is an Arizona native and through the course of his life has come face to face with a rattlesnake more than once. For that reason alone, he would likely have left the desert behind years ago were it not for one thing—the luxury of year-round golf. When Ryan isn’t on the course or in front of a computer screen, he can usually be found chasing behind his four children or doing errands for his amazing wife in the isolated beautiful valley they have both called home forever. Ryan’s thoughts and opinions that concern nobody but himself can be found here at his website. The Reluctant Blogger is his first novel.
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