In Lauraine Snelling’s novel, Half Finished, two friends get fed up with all their half-done craft projects and decide to do something about it. One, Roxie, had heard about UFO clubs—not for discovering alien life, but for finishing UnFinished Objects, or projects in their case. They discuss the idea with a few other friends and decide on a time to meet together with each choosing one project to work on while they meet.
As word of the UFO club spreads, more people want in on it—because who doesn’t have unfinished projects of some kind. Soon there are morning and evening clubs at several different locations. Even some of the men get it on the meetings.
But the clubs grow beyond projects. Relationships form and people band together to help each other through the sorrows and joys they encounter.
Lauraine said in her afterword that the book was inspired by such a UFO club in her own town. And this story brought up fond memories of a group of women who did something similar in my early married days. We didn’t focus on unfinished projects—though that’s what they were. But it wasn’t a matter of projects that had been lying around for years. We were too young to have many like that. We just met to spend some time fellowshipping while working on our various projects. We’d rotate houses, and ladies would take turns bringing snacks. I always felt we were a little inspired by the sisters in the Little Women sequels, who would meet together and visit with each other while doing their mending. I was sorry to see our group disbanded after a while: I think some of the ladies felt guilty spending time working on crafts during the day.
The beginning of the book was hard to get into: it was very busy. There were so many characters, they and their families were hard to keep straight. Plus the pages seemed to be stuffed with unnecessary details. For instance, there was one paragraph all about one woman’s two credit cards and which she used for what and why she was using the one she did for a purchase that day. Unless something about the credit cards was going to come up later in the story, there was no need to know any of that, or even that she paid for the purchase with a credit card. I don’t remember seeing that kind of thing in any of Lauraine’s other books.
But once the narrative settled down into a few of the main characters’ stories, the book became more enjoyable. There’s Roxie, a widowed real estate agent and a founding member of the UFO club. She has a grown daughter, Loren, who lives with her. Fred and Ginny own a farm and share their bounty with others. Their son and his family live nearby, and they enjoy getting together often. Their granddaughter, Addy, is an expert cookie baker. Amalia is one of my favorite characters: she is widowed and sold her own farm to live in senior apartments. But, even though she couldn’t keep up with the farm alone, she’s still able-bodied and mentally sound. She spends her days helping out some of the other seniors with physical needs or her friends.
One of the themes of the book is that we’re all half-finished projects. We’re all in a state of growth. So we need to be patient with ourselves and each other, but we also need to keep growing and learning.
I like the idea of this book, and also enjoyed the story of your own “UFO” club! I think I’d enjoy a group like that. I also like the bigger message that we’re all UFO’s in some ways. Nice review.
Oh, I could use a UFO club! I recently started (well, re-started) hand quilting a quilt I pieced 11 years ago. It’s amazing how much progress I’ve made in three weeks of quilting while I watch television in the evening for an hour! Thank you for the book review–it’s always fun to see what others are reading.
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