I don’t have anything against sequels. Honest. I can think of countless ones I’ve enjoyed. (And series are a whole other matter — I love a great series.) But there are two kinds of book sequels I can’t abide. The first, of course, is the sequel that’s written by someone other than the original author (the best recent examples of this are Gone With the Wind sequels, Scarlett and Rhett Butler’s People, both licensed by Margaret Mitchell’s estate). And then there’s the sequel written by an author who just doesn’t seem to be able to come up with anything else and so returns to one of the books that made him or her famous in the first place: Thomas Harris’ Hannibal. John Updike’s The Widows of Eastwick. And now Jacquelyn Mitchard’s No Time to Wave Good-bye.
You remember Jacquelyn Mitchard. Back in 1996, her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was plucked from obscurity by none other than Oprah, who used it to launch her now-famous book club. The tale of kidnapping and grief in a Midwestern family, the Cappadoras, went on to sell 3 million copies; it was later made into a movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams. For the sake of Shelf Life readers, I won’t give away plot points of No Time to Wave Good-bye. Suffice it to say they’re doozies. As I turned the pages, I kept shaking my head and thinking, What next? Haven’t the Cappadoras been through enough? What was in the first book a heartbreaking family drama has become almost ludicrous caricature. By the time I finished, I was more than a little annoyed at Mitchard for dredging up (and, to my mind, ruining) her old story for the sake of a few bucks.
And it’s a trend that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon. Back in April, Grand Central Publishing announced that Scott Turow is writing a sequel to one of my all-time favorite thrillers, Presumed Innocent.
I’m already worried. You?