Even after thirteen years in Southern California, Owen Martin can feel the corners of his squareness still sharply evident. He’s a TV weatherman bored by the beautiful climate. He wants to coach basketball but all the kids play soccer. And he seems to be the only person who thinks a fruit smoothie is a poor substitute for a vanilla shake. When he’s fired from his job, Owen is relieved to head home to Iowa, to the town his ancestors founded and the simple life he knew before his father died. He can’t predict the atmospheric pressure he’s about to encounter, which, as any meteorologist knows, is the key catalyst for change. . . .In his absence, Martinville has become the center of the Transcendental Meditation movement and host to all things alternative. There are golden domes for mass meditations, a vegan café where the burger joint stood, and all the shop doors around Town Square now face east. But far worse than anything is the danger to the Martin family farm. In a town divided between “Regulars” and “Roos” (gurus), Owen is clear where he stands until he falls for a levitator instead of the down-to-earth girl he had in mind. With old customs and open-mindedness clashing like warm and cold fronts, Owen gets caught in a veritable tornado. Can he save the farm, get the girl, and reunite the town? Maybe . . . if he’s willing to embrace a change in the weather.
Today’s review is another book from the BookSparks’ Fall Reading Challenge I joined this year. You’re probably tired of hearing this, but here’s the story anyway: I was able to skip the “freshman” year (last year’s challenge) and jump right into the “sophomore” year for this year’s challenge, I’m now on the BookSparks “class” called Intro to Meditation in the Fiction Department (which I know you figured out means this book).
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started this book because I chose not to read the back cover of the book or any other written information on the book. I wasn’t even sure which “class” it fell under for my #FRC2015 challenge when I started reading it, and boy, was I surprised. I thought it would be another sleepy town “chick lit” type of story, but it sure wasn’t that.
The main character, Owen Martin, gets back to the small town of Rooville after being fired from his San Diego weatherman job only to learn that everything he knew had changed. Owens learns about the “Regulars” who are hometown crowd and the “Roos” who are the gurus practicing Transcendental Meditation. Owen hopes to find his favorite Maid-Right sloppy-joe/meatloaf-ish type sandwich only to discover the place is now a vegan place serving tofu burgers. Things get even worse when Owens realizes that the townspeople are now “new agers” practicing yoga and meditation. In fact, the local community college has become a school for Transcendental Meditation and everyone stops to meditate at 5pm every day.
This isn’t a story spoiler, but instead an interesting true fact I learned at the end of the book: Rooville is actually based on a true place – the town of Fairfield, Iowa that really does have a university founded by practitioners of Transcendental Meditation which is called Maharishi University of Management. Rooville shares a bit about the beliefs of the Maharishis and what Transcendental meditation is for but I guess I didn’t realize it was real. I even read somewhere that Oprah visited the town to see for herself.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a big “New Age” fan, once you get into Rooville a bit, it starts to get funny. Owen falls for Trishna, who is one of the “Roos” and he finds himself caught in the middle with his old girlfriend still around town. Trishna’s father, the meditating mayor, has other plans for Owen’s family farm. I also must say I really enjoyed the use of the weather as a way to separate the story and thought it was a well thought plan on the author’s part. The weather seems to be a metaphor for the relationship between Owen and Trishna. I found myself relating to Owen and his attempt at returning his life to the days of his youth too. As far as New Age goes, I try not to judge things I don’t know much about, so I won’t say much about the New Age idea other than to say that I love yoga and how it makes me feel.
I read another reviewer define this book as a “fun combination of love story, homecoming, Midwestern values, and new age spin” and I couldn’t say it any better than that. The story is warm and cozy and the humor throughout is woven throughout the story very well. Rooville is a light-hearted book sharing one man’s attempt at changing himself. I enjoyed the book and it was a quick read. It wasn’t too deep and didn’t require a lot of my attention.
Julie Long was born in Fairfield, Iowa, a typical Midwestern town (the kind with a bandstand in town square), which just happened to become the center of the Transcendental Meditation movement. For several years she lived in Southern California (where she never did find the center of town) before opting for the rural life in Western Pennsylvania. Today she lives on a farm with her husband, extended family, and an English bulldog. She co-authored BABY: An Owner’s Manual, A Mouthful of Truth, and Fat, Dumb & Lazy. This is her first novel. Visit her at her Website HERE.
I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from the publishers and BookSparks in exchange for this post, which is my honest review and unbiased opinion.