5In Matchbook by Desireé Prosapio, while in the homeless shelter one night, Carol Lassiter goes through her take of donations to find a matchbook in her bag with a telephone number on it. On a drunken lark, Carol tries calling the number, only to have the voice on the other end call her by name and say he has information on Ella, the daughter whose death three years earlier ultimately led to Carol’s letting her alcoholism take over and lead her to become homeless. But it takes a lot of inner strength for Carol to take the steps she needs in order to get her life in shape enough to follow the truth and keep from being put in danger.
The plot of this book takes us on a trip through the world of the homeless and the search for the truth of Ella’s death. In the midst of this, Carol has to stay safe from some unknown danger as she travels the journey to the truth as well as inner healing. The story shifts smoothly between the present and memories from Carol’s past as we get to know her and what has led her to the place where she has ended up. This book does a lot to make us connect with the life of a homeless woman and empathize with the inner pain that led her to become a drunken homeless lady. We see the loyalty of the friends who live on the streets and support each other as well as the inhumanity that the homeless experience as the rest of the world sees them as invisible and faceless.
Matchbook is grittier than books I am used to listening to, but I appreciated the way the book makes us connect with people we often pass by without giving consideration to. The book contains periodic bad language, which I don’t like listening to in books, but they are appropriate here to show the true nature of the people who live on the streets. I also found the group of Christians trying to save Carol to present a powerful message about the way well- meaning people who truly care about helping those not ready for help. While we sense that most of the Christians just care about racking up numbers, Carol’s former co-worker acts out of genuine concern for Carol, something that Carol recognizes when she states that she does have one friend. However, this friend doesn’t know how to approach Carol when the homeless woman isn’t ready to be saved. It serves as a message to us about the way that we try to help others who aren’t ready to help.
The audio edition of this book is narrated by Becket Royce. She uses a smooth delivery with mild expression that suits the perspective of a woman who has been medicating herself into a stupor. She seems bland at times, and at first I didn’t connect with that, since I am used to animated performances of cozy mysteries, but she suited the role of Carol effectively. In addition, I like the voices for the other characters used by Royce, especially that of Maurice, Carol’s flamboyantly gay, cross- dressing friend. Maurice uses different voices depending upon his mood, and Royce does a good job of making us recognize them all as Maurice while shifting between his falsetto and his deepest male voice. Despite my initial misgivings about the narration, I came to appreciate Royce’s effective performance.
I was impressed by the quality of Matchbook, a book that challenges our perceptions of the invisible homeless. It has a wild adventure in trying to find out the truth behind Ella’s death and in Carol’s search to find herself and inner healing. I give this book four stars.
Disclaimer: I got this book for free through AudaVoxx, but that had no influence on the content of the review.
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