Tuesday, May 27, 2014

REVIEW: PROVIDENCE by Lisa Colozza Cocca

Title: Providence
Author: Lisa Colozza Cocca
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
Source: Received from Publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 3/5


The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, "Providence" proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word.


My opinion on this light novel varied throughout, and so also my final rating. I would’ve originally gone with a four-star rating, but the last twenty-five percent of the story was incredibly frustrating, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. I finally decided to go with a three-star rating for various reasons. Still, I enjoyed Providence, and I’m glad I took a chance on it.

First of all, the entire concept of a seventeen-year-old runaway coincidentally discovering an abandoned days-old infant in a train cart on the exact same day she decides to run away from home, didn’t sit well with me. My disbelief didn’t end there though. As a mother of two boys I find it difficult to get my mind around the idea that said seventeen-year-old runaway could raise an abandoned infant with the same amount of patience, tolerance, and understanding which few first-time mothers possess and which can only be learned through experience. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I just didn’t find it plausible. She claims to have the necessary experience taking responsibility for a newborn as she has helped her mother raise nine of her siblings, yet she makes formula for the baby with cold, unsterilized tap water? And the baby doesn’t get sick nor has any stomach cramps? Sorry dude, but I’m not falling for that. I could believe that Becky loved the baby with her entire heart, but again, there’s no way she could have the patience displayed by her in this story for a child which isn’t hers.

Apparently she kept an eye on the papers to see if anyone reported a missing baby, but why didn’t she go to the police? Understandably she doesn’t want them to find out she ran away from home, and of course I can accept that. But where it got a little ridiculous for me is when Rose, when she is finally told the truth, just accepts it, asks no questions, and doesn’t really want to hear any more about where Becky and the baby comes from. When people in town asks questions about Becky and the baby, you know, the ones who doesn’t blindly accept a young girl with a baby that looks nothing like her and who keeps secrets about her past, Rose shushes them and tells them not to ask any questions. The cherry on the cake for me was how easily Becky’s family accepted that she ran away from home, and then tells her never to come back (in a letter). I understand her father would never ever win the father of the year award, but did her mother really accept her disappearance so easily? Aren’t her siblings missing her? How can anyone not be looking for her? Doesn’t she have any other family or friends? Though all this didn’t really distract me from enjoying the story, these questions were constantly going through my mind.

I liked most of the characters, and I’d love to have someone as accepting as Rosie in my life. Who wouldn’t? She turns a blind eye to practically everything! For an eighty-eight-year-old she’s quite lively and full of energy. That was another thing I didn’t always find plausible, but it was the least of my concerns. I liked her character very much and left it at that. In stark contrast, I liked Becky’s character less and less. By the end I really couldn’t wait to get away from her. The three things that really annoyed me about her character, especially from the middle to the conclusion of the book, were her passiveness, aloofness, and how she pushed the people who wanted to help her or who wanted to be friends, away from her. Take Lydia for instance. Lydia is unbelievably pushy and harsh, and generally not a likeable character. But where I didn’t like her much in the first seventy-five percent of the book, she redeems herself magnificently in the last twenty-five percent or so.

What I did enjoy about Providence, and which made it bearable to read from start to end, was the close bond that formed between Rosie and Becky. Like I said before, Rosie is a phenomenal character and her faith in people is unequaled. It’s hard to believe her granddaughter wants almost nothing to do with her. I also liked how Becky contributed in breathing new life into the small town that became her and baby Georgia’s new home.

The romance between John and Becky can hardly be called that as nothing really happens between them. I couldn’t even see what John would see in her as she’s so closed off. So little interaction happens between them anyway, it’s not a novel I’d recommend to romance junkies. They’ll be severely disappointed, though I wasn’t. The last thing I needed was for that storyline to be dragged out in an already slow book. Luckily I was spared from that. 

Providence is a book with which you’ll need to have a lot of patience. It’s a nice story and I liked that it’s different. But that’s all it is. It’s just nice. Most of it comprises of Becky and Rosie’s daily doings. No character growth, as far as I’m concerned, as Becky is already very mature for her age, more so than you’d expect from your average seventeen-year-old. There were no conflict (nothing to get excited about, at least), no twists, no suspense, nothing. Yet, I couldn’t put it down every time I picked it up to continue to the next chapter. For me it was just an okay read, but I definitely would like to see what else this author has to offer.



As a writer, I’m always keeping my eyes open for new ideas. I love to read and to watch plays and movies. I love to visit gardens, wineries, museums, and pretty much any place I’ve never been before. One of my absolute favorite things to do is to linger over dinner with friends in endless conversation. I’ve closed down many a restaurant!

I have three siblings, three kids of my own, and one amazing granddaughter. (Although I feel way too young to be a grandma!) Friends and family have taught me so much about life. They should know though the old saying is true – if you get too close to an author, you just might end up being a character in one of her books!

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