About,  Archive

Life Erupted

Review of the Debut Novel by Mary Stanik

By Rebecca Taylor

Cover Image Copyright of Mary Stanik 2012
Cover Image Copyright Mary Stanik 2012

I must admit I was skeptical at first about reading Life Erupted by Mary Stanik. I have read many self-published books before, and to be honest, it is often self-evident that they are self-published. However, this book was different. The idea for the book, the way it was written, and the way everything in the novel flowed together was like a book that was published by a major publishing house.

There were some line-editing errors, but there are grammatical oversights in novels that are printed by major publishers, if we are being perfectly honest. But despite the occasional error, Life Erupted was an excellent book that was well-written, engaging, and well-developed plot-wise, which is not always the case with self-published, debut authors these days.

Now before I discuss anything further, I must warn you that there will be plot details not discussed in any summaries online that I know of, and it WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. So be warned!

The story revolves around Jenn Bergquist, who works in the public relations department of a major medical centre in Minneapolis. Jenn’s life is turned upside down in some very unexpected ways when she meets Bianca Fiona, a California psychic.

Enter Olaf Bergquist, a Norwegian-Lutheran, who comes across as an up-tight and slightly OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) traditionalist. As it turns out, Olaf adopted Jenn from a pregnant teenager who is none other than Bianca Fiona, though she went by her surname Fionarello at the time. After a troubled life full of multiple failed marriages and alcoholism, Bianca becomes a patient at the medical centre Jenn works at. You guessed it, Bianca not only wanted to meet the daughter she couldn’t raise, but also create some semblance of a relationship with Jenn before she dies of liver disease—that is if Bianca cannot get a liver transplant in time.

As Bianca and Jenn get to know each other (Jenn is still blissfully unaware that she is adopted, let alone that Bianca is her biological mother), Bianca does not feel that Jenn is fulfilling her true potential. Bianca then connives with her famous volcanologist brother, Dr. Tony Fionarello, to send Jenn to Iceland to work with Tony on a volcano documentary, where Jenn would be managing the media coverage of Mount Hekla. I’ll stop talking about the plot here, as I don’t want to spoil all the surprises.

Photo by Aaron Fahrmann
Photo by Aaron Fahrmann

The story itself is written mostly from Jenn’s perspective, although we do see parts of what is unfolding from the various other characters. The use of multiple points-of view can occasionally become a touch confusing, but it is easily sorted out. The book is accompanied by illustrations by Jack Ohman at the beginning of each chapter. I found these images to be off-putting at first, but the more I read of Life Erupted, the more I fell in love with the way the characters were drawn and the story they told. I was confused a couple of times as the illustrations did not match what was written exactly, although that is to be expected in the world of publishing.

Many of you are probably wondering what connection this book has to the Danforth area, so I will not hold you in suspense any further. The last chapter is set in Toronto, specifically in Riverdale, with a shout-out to Danforth Avenue. It applauds the wonderful atmosphere of the areas, and discusses the farmer’s market at Withrow Park.

Overall, this book is magnificently written and is an impressive work for a first-time author. As I read Life Erupted, I fell in love with the story, illustrations, and especially the characters. I recommend you all read it, as it truly is a wonderful work of art.

To purchase Life Erupted visit www.marystanik.com.

Leave a Reply