Country Tied, by Robyn Buttars, Country Stories, 2008. Young Adult. Christian.
I didn’t actually buy this book; I was given this book in exchange for a fair review.
I had a really hard time getting into this book at first. My brain kept chanting the mantra "Show, don't tell. Show, don't tell". But then, about halfway through this book, something wonderful happened -- and I don't just mean the birth of the calf, although that was wonderful -- a spark of life entered this book. Suddenly, some of the characters seemed so much more fleshed out. Suddenly, the story became interesting. Suddenly, I was engaged and actually cared about what happened to some of the characters in this book.
It took me about four hours to read the first of the book, because I had to keep re-reading passages to understand what was happening. Major event only merited a sentence or a very brief paragraph. And then two months or more were gone. The characters and the events kept blurring together.
It only took me two hours to finish the book after the calf-birthing scene. And I actually cared about the protagonist and her decisions. There were still some flawed passages in the second half, but the difference was remarkable and quite staggering.
There is an entire cast of characters from the first half that are left hanging like limp marionettes at the end of the story. I would have either cut those strings, or reanimated them by bringing them back in the concluding chapters.
I once read that you should always begin your book on the third chapter. Whether that is literal or figurative, that seems like very good advice.