The Art of My Life by Ann Lee Miller challenges the Christian reader with its sometimes explicit content. The novel thoroughly explores the relationship between Cal and Aly and Cal’s addiction to pot.
In her last novel, Kicking Eternity, Cal submitted to his addiction to pot after being rejected by Raine for someone else. Aly is angry because Cal slept with Evie, a drama queen and pot addict. Cal has spent several months in jail and in The Art of My Life he is determined to lead a straight life to earn Aly’s love. Aly is now a bank loan officer and living as a Christian. Her past reputation continues to haunt her mind and others reminders of her mistakes hurt.
To interrupt the story is the budding romance between Fish and Missy. That story was distracting. I really didn’t like Missy or Fish. Fish was truly an unpleasant character and while necessary to the storyline, I wish he didn’t have his own point of view. Other people will probably disagree. Ann did a great job in presenting each character with individual personalities and voices. That’s not an easy talent to achieve as sometimes every character no matter the inflection of voice in dialogue can sound like the author.
Ann’s novel is unique, getting into the uglier side of the life of an addict and the temptations involved in once having been sexually active. For those under sixteen years old, the novel is too explicit.
While Ann doesn’t write in the traditions of secular romance scenes, the scenes depicted do take a step past the edge where it’s too visual. I’m not sure how I feel about it since I do appreciate the struggle being illustrated there. Too often Christian novels don’t touch upon sexual temptation. To successfully, show rather than tell of the struggles a young girl might endure means getting into the dirty side of life. Ann does this, but I’m not sure I like how far she goes with it.
In the Christian world, her novel would probably be criticized because of this content and the heavy drug use illustrated, but in the secular world this would be considered tame.
I liked the flow of her last novel, but I felt the flow in The Art of My Life kept getting interrupted by Fish and Missy’s issues. I would have rather seen no point of view from Fish or Missy, and focused on Cal, Aly, and Cal’s mom and grandparents. Ann is probably going to use Missy and Fish in her next novel, if I were to hazard a guess by how much time these characters received in The Art of My Life.
The danger Aly and Cal faced towards the end of the novel escalated the conflict and the necessity of Cal getting rid of his pot addiction. Ann shows us the side of weed that most people who promote the so-called benefits of try to hide. Her writing of this story almost reflects a personal experience possibly with people who had this addiction. There’s a passion behind her words as she wrote Aly and Cal’s story. The nice thing about each chapter were the snippets of Aly’s “blog,” that give us a little more of Aly’s thoughts.
Overall, I struggled to come up with a rating for her novel and hovered between a three and four. A couple of grammar and/or typos were not distracting, but because of how well she showed pot’s addictive nature and the damaging effects it can have on families, I gave The Art of My Life four stars. The story of the weed’s dangerous effects on people and family upstaged Cal and Aly’s love story.
*Book given by author to review.