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Review – The Bunko Babes

The Bunko Babes
Leah Starr Baker
364 pages
Published 2007

Bunko Babes is another book I received from Mary Lewis at Blog Stop Book Tours. Reading the synopsis, I got tears in my eyes. Oh, how I love a good story about female friendships!

Bunko Babes is told through the eyes of Becca Thornton: wife, mother, friend, and bunko player. Becca tries to balance all these roles but is starting to lose a lot of her energy and ability to cope due to the onset of a debilitating illness. Throughout the story, we learn about some of the other Bunko Babes. Her best friend, Jessica, must deal with the guilt of infertility as the doctors believe an abortion that she had at 16 caused her infertility. Madison has a cheating husband who fights for custody of their kids. Mercedes has a husband who has been deployed to Iraq.

I wanted to like this book! I really did! But from the beginning the scenes felt contrived, everyone having the perfect retort and able to send all the other women into gales of laughter. Becca wasn’t a very likable character, purposefully hurting Jessica and then refusing to apologize, using her illness and other circumstances as reasons why she couldn’t repair the damage she’d inflicted to a lifelong friend.

This book has many references to Christianity and Biblical passages, many of the characters, particularly Becca, professing a profound belief in God. Those scenes fell flat as well as it seemed they were round pieces being shoved into a square whole.

The story reached the point of no return after this scene where Becca and her husband eat at a Japanese sushi restaurant where they are regulars. Becca is observing the hostess/waitress:

She turns toward the kitchen, her back ramrod straight, her feet, deformed from binding, making it impossible for her to take anything but the tiniest of steps. She must be nearing eighty – a refugee from another time and place – and I can’t help wondering about So Li, her life…the sorrows and the joys.

I’m no history buff, but I was pretty sure that foot binding ended more than 80 years ago. I did some research and found out two things that made this scene highly improbable: foot binding was done by the Chinese, not the Japanese; and foot binding was made illegal in 1911. Even if this book took place in 2007, that would place So Li’s birth in 1927, long after foot binding was illegal…assuming she’s Chinese working in a Japanese restaurant. The scene seemed placed here because the author wanted it there, unconcerned with the historical inaccuracies.

Despite my frustrations with the book, it was a speedy read and kept me entertained. If you like chick lit, I think you’ll like Bunko Babes. Don’t let my review stop you from reading it…after all, I didn’t like Atonement.

Thanks to Mary Lewis at Blog Stop Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this book. She’s fabulous to work with!

Rating: 75 out of 100

Don’t forget to enter my 14 book giveaway! It looks like we’re on track to pick five winners!

| Tags: , , , 7 comments »

7 Responses to “Review – The Bunko Babes”

  1. Leah Starr Baker

    Trish, so sorry to hear that “The Bunko Babes” didn’t live up to your expectations. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to read and write the review anyway. I’m glad to hear that you at least found it to be a quick read and kept you entertained.

    On a technical note, I did take into account when foot binding had become illegal in China and yes, I placed a Chinese woman working in a Japanese restaurant. I do know several people of Asian decent who don’t necessarily come from the country that the restaurant food does. I also am amazed to know many elderly women who came to America during the difficulties of the 1940’s to make a new life for themselves and they are still alive today. This is definitely the exception to the rule but since it is a novel and So Li is a minor character I took the chance that for most readers the slim likelihood would not be offensive or take away from the story.

    I do appreciate you adding that even though you didn’t enjoy the book doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t purchase it recognizing that not all readers will find moving the same books as you do. Proof of this is the reviewers comments yesterday. After all, it takes all kinds of people to make up this wonderful world and all kinds of books to bring us joy.

    Many Bunko Blessings,

    Leah Starr Baker
    author of “The Bunko Babes”


  2. chartroose

    Man, I hate to reply after the author has been so gracious in her response to your less than stellar review, so I guess I’ll keep my mouth shut and say I can’t believe you didn’t like “Atonement!”

    Actually, I know a couple of people who found it tedious and contrived. To each his own, I guess. Have a great 4th, Trish!


  3. mellymel

    i didn’t like Atonement either 🙂


  4. Lori Barnes

    I love books where women get together and form a bond together, I haven’t heard of this one but i do like chic lit to switch my reading up a bit, I may look into this one Thanks.


  5. Leah Starr Baker

    Lori, I think that you will really enjoy the book. A few reviewers haven’t felt a connection with Becca (the main character) but on the whole most have found her real and believable. Like me, she is dealing with a chronic illness that has changed her entire world in one fell swoop. As she struggles to assimilate these changes, she comes to depend upon and appreciate the friends that God has brought into her life. The challenge with her and in my own life is to work to find the good in things when it seems to be just out of your reach. I hope you pick up a copy this summer and give it a gander. Many Bunko Blessings to you and yours.

    Leah Starr Baker
    author of “The Bunko Babes”


  6. Dawn

    I think there’s a distinction to be made between finding Becca “real and believable” v. liking her. That is where I found myself struggling with this book (and, oddly, in my review, I used the same line as Trish did, in really *wanting* to like it).

    Becca does come across as very real, but not someone I would want in my life. She fails to support those around her, those who love her, and, instead, pushes them away, then blames her illness. It made it hard to root for her.

    A line from one of my favorite books comes to my mind, and it came to my mind while reading Bunko Babes… In The Outsiders, Cherry, the stereotypical spoiled rich girl with challenges of her own that have not yet been revealed, tells Ponyboy, “Things ARE rough all over.”

    When I get into a “poor me” mode about whatever I feel is lacking in my life (including parents–I lost both of mine…), I often say that line to myself right before I count my blessings.

    I think Jessica and Madison were the far more sympathetic characters in Bunko Babes–neither had a terminal illness, but I felt more sympathy for their situations. I’m still curious if Becca is *meant* to be an anti-hero, or if readers really should be rooting for her?


  7. When do negative reviews go too far? | Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

    […] same review? Maybe, maybe not. But I’ve written other reviews of books I didn’t enjoy (Bunko Babes and The Darker Side and Out Stealing Horses to name a few), and they certainly aren’t cruel. […]

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