REVIEW: Perennials by Julie Cantrell

REVIEW: Perennials by Julie Cantrell

I was browsing Kindle titles on Amazon when I stumbled upon Perennials by Julie Cantrell. The premise seemed interesting enough. However, I haven’t had the energy to finish this book. I spent nearly a whole morning reading up to half of the novel, waiting, waiting for it to get good because it did have promise.

Now, a disclaimer: I did not finish this book. I didn’t care enough to finish this book. I thought it would be a waste to continue investing my time in it when even after I’ve plodded through half of it, I still didn’t care about anyone in the story. That said, I do have some thoughts on the half that I did read.

I was initially intrigued because the premise seemed similar to Girls in Trucks: a girl born and raised in the South, who then moved away and encountered various troubles. But Girls in Trucks moved me and stayed with me because it depicted hurt and emotional damage so well – the motivations of the main character were especially complicated. Perennials is just, like, “Hey, this is Lovey’s (the protagonist) sister, the asshole! Plus, Lovey’s ex-boyfriend turned out to be a married cheating asshole! The protagonist is so lonely and afraid to love!”

I don’t think the characters are written all that well.

I don’t see the antagonists as “flawed and relatable”, but simply marked “dicks”. The sister Bitsy, for instance, is depicted as needlessly cruel to Lovey. I skipped to the end and it seems she and Lovey have reconciled, but I really didn’t bother to find out why Bitsy was a bitch because she was so one-dimensional.
Moreover, the reveal of “The Reed Incident” was such a letdown. Reed, Lovey’s ex, was just a cardboard character who steered Lovey into an emotional rut. We don’t even get a proper backstory on Reed – we just find out he’s married. The way he informs Lovey of this is cold and harsh, but since I never read anything about him being previously decent, I just assumed he’s a shithead with no humanizing, redeeming qualities whatsoever.

The novel is told from a first-person narrative, so I do expect some tunnel vision when it comes to the protagonist’s interactions with others. Still, more could have been done to make me feel something, anything, about these characters.

I did enjoy the setting of the story.

The vivid descriptions of nature – mountains, the countryside – made for a lovely backdrop. Really, the passages I most enjoyed reading were the ones that described the blooming flowers in detail.

Overall, I feel that the theme of loneliness in familial and romantic relationships has been done to death. And that’s okay. The problem is, it’s been done better.

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