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Beyond Another Door: 04/09/09

One of my goals this year is to read through books I have been given in recent years: either through BookCrossing, from friends and family or through Craigslist. Among those books is Beyond Another Door a young adult paranormal romance from the late 1970s. I actually finished this book about a month ago and I'm still struggling with how best to review it.

Beyond Another Door is about Daria Peterson who lives with her single mother in a quiet little town far from the rest of the family. After winning an ugly dish at the carnival, Daria's world changes. She begins to see ghosts and have visions of the past and future. Can she make sense of it all?

For the most part I enjoyed the paranormal twist to the book. I liked how the relationship with Rob grew over time. I also liked Daria's new found abilities helped her connect with Nanette. A few things though dampened my enjoyment of the book: Daria's relationship with her mother, the big horror over being a "love child" and the uneven style of the writing.

Daria's feelings for her mother are never well established in the book. Throughout the novel she calls her mother by her name instead of "Ma, Mom, Mother" or something similar implying they aren't all that close. The opening scene though implies from their camaraderie that they are very close and in later scenes Daria says they are close but the remaining confrontational scenes they have together show exactly the opposite.

Next is the dragged out revelation through her visions that Daria was probably conceived out of wedlock. The first big mistake in this plot point is Daria's lack of understanding. She doesn't know what the term means. When she finds out from boyfriend Rob she is horrified and convinced that now the whole town will be out to get her. This one plot point sends the book hurtling backwards in time about twenty years. Daria though isn't old enough to have been born in the hyper conservative 1950s. Finally, though, if the town really did care about such things, Daria would already know. Pearl certainly did at a much younger age in The Scarlet Letter.

Both problems: the relationship between mother and daughter and the question of her legitimacy could have been blended more evenly into the story. Unfortunately the uneven writing emphasizes all the wrong parts, dragging out insignificant scenes and racing through the pivotal ones.

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