Cheat Day: A Novel Book Review

There is an old quote about writing attributed to W. Somerset Maugham.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

If I were to write one rule, it would be that it is the job of the writer to create a connection between the characters and the audience. Without that association, the want by the reader or the viewer to continue with the story is likely to disappear.

Cheat Day: A Novel, by Liv Stratman, was published last summer. Kit and David met in college and have been together ever since. Now in their thirties, they live in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. The only career she has had is working on and off at the family bakery while her husband is rising in the white-collar business world. They are both on another new diet, which is the latest in a long list of weight loss programs that had failed to live up to their promise.

Looking to make up for what is missing in her life, Kit starts seeing another man on the side. Matt was hired to do some construction work for the bakery. What starts out as a mild flirtation turns into a full-blown affair. As her life spirals out of control, Kit leans on her diet to maintain some sense of order. But she knows that she will have to make a decision about her future and stick to it.

I wanted to like this book. The concept was interesting. The problem is that my attachment to the characters and the narrative was merely surface level. Whatever hook the author intended to create to keep me engaged was not there. I was also disappointed by the ending. It felt like an afterthought. Whatever closure I needed as a reader was missing.

The only good thing is that it was very authentic to South Brooklyn. Anyone who knows this part of the borough knows exactly what Stratman is talking about.

Do I recommend it? Not really.


The First Five Pages Book Review

It can be said that a good book hooks the reader in early on in the story and does not let go until the final page.

Noah Lukeman’s 2000 book, The First Five Pages: The Writers Guide To Staying Out Of The Rejection Pile is about just that. It is a guide to writing a novel that will grab the reader quickly and force them to continue reading.

W. Somerset Maugham said the following about writing:

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.

While this is true to a certain extent, I believe books like Mr. Lukeman’s and many others provide guidance to all writers, regardless of their experience.

I liked this book very much. Writing, like any art, requires not just talent, but hard work and a little elbow grease. What I liked about this book is that the advice is very practical and can be applied to all writers.

I recommend it.


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