Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Textual Healing by Eric Smith

I have never had a pet sugar glider, nor have I ever known any one with such an exotic pet. I wouldn’t even know where to buy one! Can you even get a sugar glider at a regular pet store? When the main character, Ace aka Andrew makes the impulsive decision to buy a sugar glider in order to impress a girl that he is smitten with, I learned that one should never leave such an unusual animal unattended. Ace’s adventure with his psychotic pet that he dubbed Ditto is just one of many scenes where the readers witness the lengths to which Ace will go to in order to impress a girl. However, it takes the right girl to show him that the best that anyone can hope for is that someone will love you for who you truly are and not the persona that you project onto others. This is a major theme in the book and is reinforced often with many of the secondary characters. Brian, the OCD vegetarian that works in Ace’s bookstore has an alter ego called Pantera that is half man, half panther with exotic moves and inexhaustible stamina. Brian, however, is just a quirky kid who lacks the confidence and sexual prowess to just be himself around women, hence the need for Pantera. We even learn that the flower-shop-owning ninja dons a disguise and speaks in haiku because she has difficulty expressing herself, especially when it comes to the pirate that she secretly yearns for.

You’re probably wondering what this story is even about. Well, Ace is a writer who had one extremely successful book that was turned into a movie. With the money that he made he bought a bookstore and spent all of his time keeping it afloat while trying to maintain his superficial relationship with his girlfriend. He never once noticed the rut that he had fallen into or that he had accomplished very little in the three years since his big success. It is only after his girlfriend breaks up with him that he realizes that he needs to piece back together the parts of himself that he lost along the way. One can’t help but love this goofy protagonist who is determined to get his life back and find true love. The crazy assortment of characters that he surrounds himself with on his journey only makes this book that much more enjoyable to read. I’ve already mentioned Brian and the ninja, but there is also Hannah from Montana who he falls in love with, as well as all of the emotionally unstable writers that attend the self-help group Textual Healing.     

As much as I enjoyed Textual Healing, I had some issues with the writing. While there are some genuinely funny moments in this book that had me laughing out loud and going back to reread some of my favorite scenes, there were also moments that were intended to be funny, but came off as rather ludicrous instead. One example of this is when the ninja sees Hannah walk into the bookstore while Ace is asleep and decides that she must protect Ace and his store by capturing the intruder and tying her to a beanbag chair. Typically this type of behavior would be considered assault and possibly even kidnapping, but rather than be horrified by what has just happened, both Ace and Hannah find the situation humorous. Unfortunately, I did not. I was too distracted by how silly and unrealistic this scenario seemed. The other issue I had with Textual Healing was the many spelling and grammatical errors. One glaring mistake that really bugged me was when Ace was describing Hannah’s outfit and he mentions that she is wearing platform boots with heels and then a few pages later remarks on how her sneakers snap against the hard floor of the church steps. If I can spot this mistake while reading this book for the first time, I don’t see how so many others could have missed it during the editing process. Despite these minor issues I had, I found Textual Healing to be a fun read and I will be keeping an eye out for future books from this author!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars


  1. Well, that's a unique plot. And no, I'm pretty sure you can't get a sugar glider from a pet shop... maybe a really shady one. In Australia.
    I just know that such continuity errors would really annoy me too when reading. How could an editor have missed that?

  2. Interesting plot but I think the grammatical errors would just annoy me after a while.