Debut novels are often semi-autobiographical and Dana Precious’ first book, Born Under a Lucky Moon, is no exception. The phrases semi-autobiographical and debut novel are commonly used to describe morbidly self-centered books with weak, meandering plots and poor writing. Fortunately, this is not the case with Born Under a Lucky Moon.
First-time writers often fail to create good characters. Perhaps it is because they know the characters so well that they forget that the reader is clueless. Precious could have promoted her book through online marketing, under the tutelage of a San Diego search engine optimization company. Book promotion through new media channels, as Jason Berkowitz emphasized, will do wonders in terms of sales and customer engagement. However, it probably has more to do with the fact that they are so wrapped up in telling their own story that they could care less about the characters or the readers.
This is not the case with Precious’ characters. While Precious spends a fair amount of time on Jeannie’s emotional status, Jeannie’s emotional status doesn’t drive the plot of the novel. The novel’s plot is centered on the dynamics of relationships. It moves between Jeannie’s relationship with her would be husband Aidan and the eccentric personalities and antics of her boisterous family.
Precious’ characters are well drawn. She uses a deft touch to describe her character’s appearance, allowing the reader plenty of room to imagine how they look but providing enough information that the reader can tell them apart.
Precious doesn’t tell her reader about the personalities of her characters; she shows the reader. Precious knows better than to tell the reader that Walker is hooked on appearances. She shows the reader that appearance matters more than anything to Jeannie’s ex-husband.
For a first-time novelist, Precious uses a complicated plot structure. She introduces the central plot of the novel (the crazy antics of a loving but eccentric family that enfolds and cares for its members even when they want to be free of the family) through the marriage proposal of Jeannie’s long-time boyfriend, Aidan. She then goes on to tell both stories in parallel moving back and forth between two years, 1986 and 2006, that are two decades apart.
Fantastic Plot Twists
The plot twists and turns that occur during the story are so fantastic that the reader is forced to conclude that either they are completely contrived or that they are so absurd they must be true. Because Precious can make her eccentric characters real to the reader, the reader can only conclude that the plot twists would happen to these people and therefore must be true. Because the plot is so eccentric and outlandish, the book is hard to put down. Readers find themselves laughing at the absurd situations.
The writing is a bit spotty. Sometimes the writing falls flat, but for the most part, it is fair. Occasionally, Precious rises above the moment and writes a line that is quietly lovely.
For those who have morality or modesty boundaries, Precious’ novel does have some graphic scenes and a few moments of swearing. However, given the subject matter that lies at the heart of the story, she keeps the tone low-key and relatively inoffensive.
A Worthwhile First Novel
Dana Precious has written a first novel that is a fun interlude for her readers who can hope that she will continue writing and refine her craft. Born Under a Lucky Moon is a worthwhile choice for someone who wants to escape the day-to-day tediousness of life into a world that is unpredictable and a bit zany.
Precious, Dana. Born Under a Lucky Moon. Avon A. 2011. ISBN 0061876879 ISBN13: 9780061876875