For What It's Worth

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Review: Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson


When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.


Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. ~ Goodreads


Source: e-arc provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Dnf - here are a few thoughts as to why...

I SO wanted to love this. I was really looking forward to it but the writing style didn't work for me.

First the good stuff! I really liked both Jesse and Kerry and was rooting for them. Jesse is a bit of a jerk at times but is trying to step up to the plate after Mama Joy's death to be the man she saw in him. Kerry is a kind soul - a little lost but understanding of how much the shop means to their Harlem community and is willing to jump in to help save it and reunite the quarreling brothers.

However, the writing felt so awkward and clunky that I couldn't get a rhythm going while reading. There is a lot of set up, being a first book and all. Some of it is understandable - you need to meet the brothers and have a little bit of backstory. But this is Jesse's story and we don't need so much detail about every brother yet. And, honestly, the brothers were real jerks. I expect some drama since they have differences on what to do with the shop and expectations for each other but damn. They were mean at times.

But the real problem I had was how the author would start a conversation or scene and just drop it - only to drift off in another direction, with inner monologue or backstory, then come back to it 3 pages later. For example - Jesse or a coworker would say hi to Kerry and instead of answering she'd describe what they're wearing, past conversations, their job, and then 3 pages later - she'd say hi! back. It was like this for both Kerry and Jesse's pov and it was a struggle to read.

I love, love, love the premise for this book but the writing style didn't work for me. But if you are looking for a slow burn, lower on the romance side of things, story with complicated familial bonds and a tight knit (get it -knit! ha) community give this one a go.

44 comments:

  1. I didn't even notice the whole three pages to continue a thought. I think I was just so frustrated that there was so little romance in the book. I enjoyed parts of this book, and might even read the next one, if the premise sounds interesting enough, because I did like the brothers, and I think they all have bigger stories to tell given their history.

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    1. I couldn't even get that far. That's why I asked a few friends if at least the romance was good - then I'd have something to hang on for.

      Delete
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      Delete
  2. "Jesse or a coworker would say hi to Kerry and instead of answering she'd describe what they're wearing, past conversations, their job, and then 3 pages later - she'd say hi! back."
    OK...I'm all for experimental writing and off-the-beaten-path stuff, but that doesn't sound good. The title and premise sound really fresh though.

    Loved the pun LOL.

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    1. It just got very labor intensive lol I'd be following one train off thought, then need to go in a different direction, then back.

      It's SUCH a good premise! And maybe for a different reader it would work better. A lot of people have enjoyed it.

      Delete
  3. Yeah...that whole wait around for three pages to respond would kind of drive me nuts. We don't need description and/or backstory all the time! LOL Sorry this didn't work for you, since you really loved the premise.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I don't need such extreme details for every character and each scene. Of course, there will be some set up for the brothers but it was too much. Describing one brothers work shifts when he isn't' even the focus of this book.

      I'm also not a reader who enjoys a lot of inner monologue and there was just too much observational inner monologue for me.

      Delete
  4. Okay, I think that writing style would drive me crazy. I mean, the writer knows what's going on and what she's saying and when, but the reader is just along for the ride. And a conversation that starts - veers into something else for several pages - and then picks right back up is plain confusing. Ugh.

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    1. I actually sent a few screen shots to friends to see if I was being too harsh. But it was so distracting and difficult to read for me.

      Delete
  5. Aww sorry you didn't love it. It sounds like it should have been good.

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    1. Part of it was expecting a romance, and there wasn't but the premise was good so I carried on. The writing though...I just had to give up.

      Delete
  6. You missed nothing Karen. I did this as an audiobook and I would zone out some many times when those characters got introduced mid-convo.

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    1. The details of the brothers (& not even the MC!) work, of her coworkers...I didn't need them and they occurred right in the middle of conversations lol

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  7. Replies
    1. Yes! She would ponder what they were wearing, past conversations...then finally come back to the conversation.

      Delete
  8. This sounded like such a cute story, but I sounds like the writing just wasn't up to snuff. On to the next one!

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  9. This book doesn't really appeal to me to be honest and from all the mixed reviews I have seen ....doesn't encourage me. I am sorry to hear that the writing style didn't work for you.

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    1. I really liked the idea of the men coming together to save the knitting store but it ended up being too difficult to stick with it.

      Delete
  10. Sorry that this one didn't work for you. Hate it when I'm looking forward to a book and it just falls flat.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. It sounded like it was going to be fun. Oh well

      Delete
  11. Sorry this didn’t work for you. The writing style definitely sounds frustrating, it would disrupt the flow and take you out of the story. It wouldn’t work for me at all. I’ve heard mixed things about this one to be honest so I was planning on giving it a miss anyway but yeah. not for me.

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    1. It looked like it would be fun but not so much.

      Delete
  12. I tried. I really, really did. I went into this one with an open mind, despite hearing it wasn't meeting people's expectations, but I just couldn't keep up with the writing and conversations. Both were choppy and all over the place. I'm super bummed since it had a really interesting concept!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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  13. Yeah, the majority of feedback I've seen on this one lately is not good at all... Shame for the premise sounds so good!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It's an awesome premise! I even liked the characters but the writing was a struggle to get through.

      Delete
  14. I hate it when I want to love a book and I get clunky writing and mega angst to drag it down!

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    1. It was a very labor intensive reading effort lol I gave up.

      Delete
  15. That's too bad. I was toying with the idea of maybe reading this next year, but the things you pointed out are all things that irk me. Ha ha. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 👍✨

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    1. I really hate to say to skip things based on my review but, in this case, I'd say pass.

      Delete
  16. I've read similar reviews, which bums me out. It will be interesting to see how the second book is received.

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    1. If it was just the couple, I would give the author another shot but it really was more the actual writing. I'd have to have a pretty strong recommendation to continue with the series.

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  17. I have also found a few writers that had writing styles that just don't jibe with my brain. It's disappointing but makes it hard to enjoy the story.

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    1. I had to keep going back to re-read and that's never fun.

      Delete
  18. I hate when I'm so excited to read a book and then it disappoints! Sorry this one wasn't a win for you!

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    1. I wish I connected with the writing more because the set up for the story is great!

      Delete
  19. Hmm okay, so I have read a lot of positive reviews for this book so it is nice to kind of see a different take before I decide to read it or not. It sounds like the subject matter is really good but the inconsistent writing was definitely the major problem here. So I can understand :(

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    1. The premise is fantastic so I'm bummed her writing didn't work for me.

      Delete
  20. Aww, that's too bad. The title sounded so promising. Sounds like a beta reader might've helped with those conversation drift aways.

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    1. It sounds so fun! It was darker than the title/cover suggests but I could have rolled with that if the writing was better.

      Delete
  21. Like you, I totally love the premise of this story, but I would have a hard time sticking with that type of writing. It's kind of surprising that her beta readers didn't notice it. With such a brilliant idea, I'm sure the next book will be totally fabulous! Air Hugs, RO

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    1. It seems to be a common criticism so maybe you're right about the next one. If a fellow blogger tells me it's better - I would give it a go!

      Delete
  22. Oh no, that drifting off thing does sound really frustrating and like it'd take me out of the story. Sorry this one disappointed!

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