Book Review: If There Be Pain
Book Reviewed by Jayne Cubbage
On the surface it appears that Gloria Mallette has designed her latest novel, If There Be Pain to read like a chronicle of the life of Kyle Lawson, a selfish, ego centric womanizer who has more than a little disdain for his family since they've been nagging him about his horrible behavior. Shirking family duties and practically ruining his own business, Kyle can only be counted on to rise to the occasion when it comes to one thing’women. Despite being his grandfather's favorite grandchild, Kyle barely makes it to the nursing home where his grandfather lay dying. And at that he feels like the visit is a chore. But as grandfather Lawson dies he holds onto Kyle's sacred turtle given to him by his grandfather many years ago. The grip is so tight as his grandfather dies, the chain has to be broken in order to free Kyle.
But in order for Kyle to really be free, he must first break himself of his chain of narcissistic behavior or else possibly face death himself, if not from recklessness then from one of his many scorned lovers.
After reading page after page of Kyle's ’it's all about me’ mentality one may perhaps grow bored with his antics. But Mallette keeps the story fresh with a new twist around every corner by giving insight into the peripheral characters of the book and how Kyle's dirty deeds effect them.
Despite appearing to be a shallow story and a quick and easy read, Mallette touches on many deeper subjects in the book such as African American and Native American history, and the importance of family and the sacredness of personal bonds and matters of the heart. She also focuses on the importance of the lives of ancestors and their stories. For Kyle as a young child he loved to listen to the stories his grandfather told, but failed to apply them in principle in his own life. He is also very disrespectful toward his parents possibly annoying the ancestors for failing to cherish his elders.
Of course the central theme to the novel is that the world is round and what goes around comes around. This is a lesson Kyle struggles with throughout the story. In his mind the problem is everyone but himself and he refuses to recognize his own role in the downward spiral of his life.
With heavy use of the spirit realm and dreams Mallette allows Kyle's grandfather to speak to him by providing vivid imagery and near death experiences. The dreams, though scary enough to cause Kyle to avoid sleep, are meant to cajole Kyle into true manhood and into atoning for his selfish behavior. Whether or not it works is a mystery.
In the end has Kyle learned his lesson, or is he simply scared of the consequences of his actions? Or is he scared to death and craving peaceful slumber? If Kyle doesn't learn his lesson, the message to the reader is clear’abide by The Golden Rule!
Mallette has spun a wonderful story that reminds us all to evaluate our lives
and strive for peace in life and in our relationships. If There Be Pain is
entertaining, educational and eclectic all at once making for a fabulous read.