The Final Farewell

The Final Farewell
by Patricia Wiles
YA fiction. 246 pp.
Covenant Communications. 2007.

back copy:

Growing up can be hard. Especially if you live in a funeral home and your friends have either moved away, turned away—or passed away. Now that Kevin is getting close to graduation, the decision he always thought would be simple are becoming increasingly difficult. Everyone seems to be changing, including him. He wonders if he really should serve a two-year Church mission—or if he should accept the scholarship he's been offered in the field he loves. After all, the scholarship is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and he feels like he has nothing to say when he goes out with the local missionaries. Kevin needs help to find an answer. However, just when he thinks he has made up his mind, a disaster strikes that could change everything. Get caught up in the whirlwind of a young man's life in The Final Farewell of the Kevin Kirk Chronicles.
A few months ago, Puppicent was going through this Eat Edgy's Books phase (which led to the previous policy known as Lock Puppicent in the Laundry Room While We're Out [which has since been replaced with the Chain Puppicent Up Outside Because She Still Isn't Controlling Her Bowels policy]). During her book eating, aside from taking out Deathly Hallows, she also destroyed my Kevin Kirk Chronicles. I recently had these replaced and realized that I hadn't yet read the final book in the series. So I did that on Thursday.

This is perhaps the most difficult book review I've written.

So let's start with some full disclosure: I love Patricia Wiles. Though I had many authors I enjoyed working with while at Covenant, I can easily—oh so easily—say that Patricia was my favorite. And that's because she's brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Her sense of voice is wonderful. Her dedication to her craft—particularly the revision element of her craft—is absolutely stellar. And she doesn't resent and despise her editor. In fact, she actually takes criticism and praise quite well.

As an example, for her second novel, she had submitted a manuscript that was, well, good but not great. Bordering a bit on the meh side of things, perhaps. We spent about an hour or so talking about it on the phone and had come to the conclusion that there were likely too many things going on and things just weren't clicking quite right. So she set out to work on it. About three weeks later, I received her revised manuscript in the mail. And it was magnificent. She had done far more than we had talked about on the phone because she was brilliant enough to recognize what needed to happen. Even if that meant that she and I both lost some of the parts we dearly loved about the initial manuscript.

So I think she's grand.

Unfortunately, I don't think this novel is grand. It's the fourth and final book in the series, and so it's suffering from End of Series Doom I suspect. And it has an epilogue (and we all know how I feel about those). And there just seems to be too much going on with inadequate focus on the more important action scenes. The humor and voice are still good, so it's an enjoyable read that I recommend, it's just that I think the earlier books in the series pull through better.

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