Take to the Sky by Karen E. Black is the final novel in the Devereux Cousins trilogy. We follow D’Arcy “Dace” Devereux and his wife Liza as they investigate and testify at an inquiry into childhood sexual abuse at an eastern Ontario institution (this is hinted at in the second novel in the trilogy Feeling for the Air). By now the couple has six children and their firstborn, Micah, is seventeen. At the beginning of the novel Black introduced a character not found in the first two novels. I appreciated this sudden spring of entirely new information. Instead of digging up characters we had already met, we read about Kathleen Aldous, a butterfly researcher who operates a sanctuary in Mexico. She has a connection to Dace, which I will not spoil for future readers. Take to the Sky tracks the lives of Liza and Kathleen and Dace’s connection to them. We also learn about a teenager named Mariposa and Micah’s connection to her. Why is their relationship a taboo? What is the link between the Devereux couple and the sex abuse scandal? These questions find answers in Take to the Sky.
Black, as a former reference librarian and genealogist, knows how to conduct research. Her story has its basis in actual events in Ontario history. I can imagine that Black has modelled her characters after herself, as they spend a lot of time researching, poring over stacks of old newspapers and using microfilm in trying to uncover deep family secrets. Black gets to the core of these secrets over the duration of the novel, as layers of deception slowly get peeled away.
Black has a good story to tell, but has not developed the characters as independent entities. They are not identifiable by their dialogue–a remark I made last time in my review for the second novel in this trilogy, Feeling for the Air. When I read lengthy conversations between the two it was an exercise of Ivy Compton-Burnett proportions in that I always had to flip back to figure out who was speaking.
In this novel, as in Feeling for the Air, the characters seem pathological in their obsession with what is written in the local newspapers and what others will find out from them. No one, especially kids under eighteen, cares about reading anything on newsprint. The novel takes place in the early nineties, still many years before the iPhone age, yet nobody at that time rested his or her fate on what a reporter printed in a newspaper. The following exchange between Liza and Dace, the parents of Micah, is ridiculous. They worry what their son will find out from the papers about the inquiry if he goes off to summer camp:
“‘And remember the light in those cabins, the first time we took him up there? Even if they get the paper, they wouldn’t be able to see well enough to read the news–‘
“‘Yeah, those cabins are pretty dark. The kids might as well be in tents. What the hell have we been paying the big bucks for anyway? The cost of that camp is almost what I make on one of my trips down into the States. But, hey, maybe dark’s good.'” (pp. 102-103)
So Black thinks that Liza and Dace are safe because Micah’s cabin is too dark to read in? Hasn’t Black heard of flashlights? Who goes to camp without one? And even if the cabins were so dark to preclude reading in them, nothing will stop Micah from reading the newspaper outside in the daylight, like any normal person.
Black offered a few gems in the text. I wanted to highlight some stellar passages. Here’s one about Micah and Liza:
“Even in his own mind, he can’t repeat what he calls her under his breath, but from the look on her face, she hears him.” (p. 145)
I can picture the above passage and can feel the penetrating dagger eyes that Liza is shooting towards Micah. Her expression must be livid. That tension is expressed perfectly in the above citation.
When Micah buys a motorcycle, Liza has misgivings, and Black expresses this fear quite graphically:
“From the looks of her, he’ll end up a paraplegic at Sunnybrook if he doesn’t end up fried eggs right out there on the pavement in front of their house for all the neighbours to see.” (p. 347).
A nugget of wisdom near the end of the novel:
“This is why we start to lose our sight, she thinks, so we can’t see what’s happening to each other.” (p. 367).
So the book has its moments, but they are few and f-a-r between. Sadly, I am again thoroughly exasperated that Black has forsaken the opportunity to have this novel formally edited. I unabashedly pilloried her first two works, From the Chrysalis and Feeling for the Air, for being so sloppily presented. I thought that she would have done something smart before sending her third novel off to press.
Black edited Feeling for the Air after I published my first review of it. She did not have it reedited, since it was never edited in the first place, not by Diane Schoemperlen or anyone else. It was such a slopfest as my original review of it shows, that Schoemperlen would be livid if she found out that Black is still attributing the editorial work to her. Diane Schoemperlen may have looked over a few pages of Feeling for the Air or read an excerpt of the novel in an E-mail Black sent her, but she did not, I repeat not, edit that novel. I claim editorial authority over Feeling for the Air, yet only part of it, since much of it remains uncorrected.
I did the work that Black later used when she reprinted her second novel, however I do not want my name attached to it as Feeling for the Air is still a substandard work. I would have appreciated being thanked, however. Knowing that Black read my review, and likely the review for her first novel as well, I thought there would be a chance she would edit Take to the Sky before sending it to press. It would be the smart thing to do.
Unfortunately, Take to the Sky was just as much a mess as the others. I test my patience as an editor when an author ignores good advice. Why is Black so averse to having another set of eyes look over her work? Black is not the first author I have critiqued to snub free editorial advice yet I wonder if she would be so flippant if she had employed an editor. When you pay money for a service you tend to heed the advice you get. In spite of how merciless I am when authors publish unedited works–and despite all the time I spend reading, reviewing and editing their work–I am still a supporter of Karen E. Black. I would like nothing more than to read her work and rave about it. I love to tell people about good books. Yet after she had published her second novel I hoped that her third would finally come under editorial scrutiny. I know how much editing a work costs, and so as not to cut into Black’s expenses–and because I do genuinely like the author as a person–I had offered to line-edit her third novel for free. I can imagine though that she’d want nothing to do with me after I raked her over the coals after I reviewed her first two books and, generous offer or not, she’d decline it with pleasure. So I can only shrug and raise my hands. Take to the Sky is a mess. The whole trilogy is awful, so thoroughly ruined by spelling errors, omitted words, punctuation mistakes, erroneous words left in, going on page after page. She ruins the reading experience when one’s eyes are assaulted by yet again another error. Why should I go on to describe what this experience was like; just read my first two reviews to see how harrowing an experience it was. I do not need to write the same long rant a third time.
I have edited Take to the Sky. More specifically, I have line-edited it. Make your own decision if it, or the whole trilogy, is worth reading. I used the leading collegiate dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition, as my spelling authority. Please, Karen, fix your book.
I will start off by congratulating Black for the correct rendering of the expression all right. She did not make any corrections after I pointed out every single alright error in Feeling for the Air. Thank-you, Karen, for getting it right this time, every time, in Take to the Sky. Black also employed the correct possessive forms–every time–in examples such as Devereux’s and Dickens’s. Thank-you.
The emphasis in the form of italics in the quoted passages is my own, except where noted.
“On the floor space in-between the middle beds…” (p. 10). No hyphen needed between in between.
“Yes, if Miss or Mademoiselle or what-ever-she-calls-herself Beaulieu is as smart as she says…” (entire passage in italics; p. 12). No need to split what-ever into two words; use whatever.
“Just wait– Nurse Louise really going to flip her lid!” (p. 12). Verb missing after Nurse Louise. I presume Black meant to include is.
“There sure were a lot dust bunnies.” (p. 13). Should be a lot of dust bunnies.
“‘Well, no,’ Kathleen says, leaning over in her chair and flicking away a wasp burrowing in-between her toes…” (p. 15). Again, no hyphen required between in between.
“I like you better that way, she thinks, but she’s sure as hell isn’t going to say so and bust their mood.” (p. 21). Black has doubled the verb, using is twice, in a contracted form with she’s and later on with isn’t. Rewrite this part of the passage as “…but she sure as hell isn’t going to say so and bust their mood” or “…but she’s sure as hell not going to say so and bust their mood”. The first version is better.
AIDs versus AIDS only three lines apart (p. 22)
worldwide web on p. 8 yet world wide web on p. 22. I had to remark when it came up again later in the text under a different spelling.
“It’s hard to remember, but she thinks it had something to do with wanting to preserve her virginity for her one true love–whomever he was supposed to be!…” (p. 24). The accusative case is not used here; whoever is required.
“Even if she thirty, practically an old maid in 1973.” (p. 26). The verb is missing.
“How else could was she supposed to pursue her life’s work and protect the monarchs?” (p. 26). Sounds like Black had two ideas for this sentence yet left both verb options in. Pick either “How else could she pursue…” or “How else was she supposed to pursue…”.
“Or maybe he’d cancel a Christmas Carol and the party!” (p. 33). In the original passage only Christmas Carol was in italics. You need to capitalize the indefinite article and render it in italics too, as that is a part of the Dickens title, thus A Christmas Carol.
“Her neck muscle were practically useless, though.” (p. 33). Pluralize it as muscles.
“…including her own bathroom with a decades old deep, claw-footed tub.” (p. 39). A hyphen is needed between decades-old.
“…but he’ll probably have go to the University of Toronto.” (p. 39). Should be have to go to.
“…but he isn’t carved into the woodwork of house like she is…” (p. 40). Should be the woodwork of the house.
“…he went through all the novels in the children’s to department…” (p. 40). Erroneous to.
“When he’s in good mood…” (p. 44). Missing indefinite article: When he’s in a good mood…
“There are worse kinds of obsessions and passions to have, worse things for a to do.” (p. 45). I suppose Black meant so say “…worse things for a mother to do.”
“…in down-town Toronto…” (p. 50). Who spells downtown with a hyphen in the twenty-first century?
“…considering what goes on other places.” (p. 54). Should be what goes on in other places.
“He’s never been any place by himself…” (p. 55). Should be anyplace. She gets it right in “No matter, they aren’t going anyplace.” (p. 281) and “Dace isn’t going anyplace.” (p. 283).
“…to the window overlooking street…” (p. 58). Should be overlooking the street.
“If I give into them all the time…” (entire passage in italics; p. 60). Should be give in to.
“It was a five hour drive…” (p. 62). Should be five-hour.
“Where’s the heck is the stewardess?” (entire passage in italics; p. 65). Should be Where the heck is the stewardess?
“some kind of hippie ceremony with wild-flowers…” (p. 73). Use wildflowers.
“He’s not seventeen until June twenty first” (p. 79). Should be twenty-first.
“Knowledge is power, isn’t it?.” (p. 88). Erroneous period after the question mark. It is during this paragraph that I see Black employed two different fonts–such are the perils of going it alone without an editor. It’s is printed almost directly above another It’s and they have different apostrophes.
“It’d would be all over the news.” (p. 89). Say either It’d be or It would be.
“It’ll will probably be held…” (p. 90). Duplication of the verb, again. Sounds like Black was writing on her computer, decided to change the verb (as in the above example, among others) and forgot to delete her original choice. A proofread would have caught this easily. That it occurred as the first line on page 90 makes it stick out even more. Does Black realize that these errors ruin the reading experience? I stopped reading because of an error, then resume the read, then another error blocks my reading road. Again and again and again. There is no pleasure when I encounter such sloppiness.
“But if some priests had done bad things to altar boys and such under the care…” (p. 92). Should be under their care.
“‘Hmm,’ Liza says, apparently calming down enough to make one of those lightening changes in subject…” (p. 101). Black means lightning, obviously.
“The babysitter, will get the twins out of their highchairs…” (p. 106). Erroneous comma.
“Dace tried to tell him it was piece of junk…” (p. 106). How about it was a piece of junk?
“…she’s just coming on thirty eight.” (p. 107). Should be thirty-eight.
I shake my head at the choice of adjectives in the line “Everything’s downright copacetic and hunky-dory with him and Liza and their brood as far as he’s concerned.” (p. 109). You do not use both copacetic and hunky-dory adjacently in an adjective series. It looks and sounds incongruous.
“Before he knows it, Micah’s will be out of the house…” (p. 112). Should be Micah.
References to “it’s a safe second hand car” (p. 112) yet “…a second-hand recliner in the front room.” (p. 121). Pick one, Karen.
“If he can help it, he never mention Akwesasne.” (p. 113). Should be mentions.
“No way he’s ever let onto Liza that he’s still seeing Summer.” (p. 114). Should be let on to.
“Best of all, she doesn’t makes any demands on him.” (p. 114). Should be make.
“…with a valid social insurance number…” (p. 114). Capitalize it: Social Insurance Number.
“…in her problem free one-child house.” (p. 115). At least Black added a necessary hyphen to one-child. She left it off problem-free.
“Dace still hasn’t said word one about Lowery to Liza.” (p. 116). Transpose this as one word. You haven’t seen the last of this one.
“…in her stupid sling back high heels.” (p. 123). Slingback is one word.
References to the Toronto Transit Authority yet two lines later she uses the abbreviation TTC. (p. 124)
“She doesn’t give a hoot about any the perverts…” (p. 124). Should be any of the perverts.
“While the all the bad priests go back to…” (p. 124). Erroneous first the.
“…just because somebody comes onto him.” (p. 124). Ahem. Should be comes on to. If you spell onto as one word…you’ve got a different meaning. And I don’t think Black means that.
“She usually reads during the ride to Yonge station to change trains, but she it’s impossible today.” (p. 126). Black is composing at her computer, changing things around, yet not deleting everything, nor reading what she has already written–not even once, before she sends this stuff off to press.
“Getting Micah off to camp this morning completely worn her out.” (p. 126). Should be wore or use has worn.
“…but they never mentioned mention Dace.” (p. 128). The context of the sentence suggests the past tense is required. Delete mention.
“Not there aren’t a whole lot of…” (p. 130). Should be Not that there aren’t.
“…or even that he’s home and she’s help with her kids.” (p. 132). I don’t know what Black meant to write here. You don’t leave your readers scratching their heads because you have the temerity not to hire an editor. Perhaps she meant she’s got help with her kids. Don’t leave your readers to guess what your intentions are.
References to both the Maitland courthouse and Maitland Courthouse on the same page (p. 135)
“Except the press eventually decided that Dace Devereux, was the worst one of them all.” (p. 138). Erroneous comma.
“And now he was yanking his chain about what had went at St. Matthew’s.” (p. 139). I can’t believe this–had went? Really?
“He might do a little after school tutoring…” (p. 146). A hyphen is needed between after-school.
“Jeez, Dace, I’m tired of upper state New York!” (p. 147). Do people call that region of the state this? It sounds so awkward, when upstate New York seems to be the standard, and shorter, expression. She repeats this expression on p. 323 and again late in the novel (page number not taken).
“Never mind that we don’t know what’s going to happen with our kids and I’m fed up with office politics and cleaning up other people’s prose.” (p. 148). Oh my, the irony!
“What’s the matter with people who are English-speaking, but who don’t know the difference between ‘were’ and ‘where’ anyway! I could understand it if they didn’t think they could write a book, but they do. Why does everybody and their uncle think they can write a book, anyway? And that if they can’t write one, that maybe they can edit one and tell me what to do?” (pp. 148-149). I can only read that passage with mouth agape.
“Errors and omissions, especially spelling mistakes, drive her insane. There’s no room for error in her business, and no excuse if you graduated high school or you paid enough attention to detail.” (p. 173).
“If doesn’t make friends with some staffer who has a car…” (p. 153). Black omitted the subject, he.
“He’s really got too use the staff washroom…” (p. 153). What’s the matter with people who are English-speaking, but who don’t know the difference between ‘too’ and ‘to’ anyway!
“Maria or one her umpteen daughters always bustle in from the kitchen…” (p. 160). Should be one of her umpteen daughters. The verb required is the singular third-person, thus bustles.
“…the eleven and twelve-year-old campers.” (p. 163). Should be eleven-. I am glad she included hyphens in twelve-year-old.
“One look at the shrivelled thing between Gary’s legs and it’s Micah can’t help himself.” (p. 166). The relative pronoun who is needed after Micah and before can’t, or just remove it’s.
“…Summer clutching her Pound Puppy and Eden snuffling into pink teddy bear…” (p. 167). Black forgot the possessive, which she used earlier in the sentence with Summer; thus snuffling into her pink teddy bear.
“…she did her best to talk him out messing around…” (p. 169). Should be talk him out of messing around.
“Neither of these men or their representatives…” (p. 171). Should be nor.
Black refers to loggers using the Spanish word leñadors (p. 171) but that term is used for those who cut down trees legally. I would suggest taladors, which has the context for those who cut down trees illegally.
“Neither her mother nor Helen are available today.” (p. 177). Here Black used the right conjunction yet got the verb wrong. The sentence requires the singular, is.
“…he’s been a good camper for years and he’s fine student too…” (p. 181). Should be he’s a fine student too.
“It’s stupid to try and talk to him, especially with the kind of mood he’s, but she does anyway.” (p. 186). How about especially with the kind of mood he’s in?
“You know, not one of our girls have ever left here pregnant!” (p. 189). Should be has.
“Mark, my words, someday they’ll find out…” (p. 197). First comma not needed.
Black referred to the island of Saint Vincent on p. 110 yet as St. Vincent on p. 199. I had to remark when it came up again later in the text under a different spelling. The Caribbean island’s (really, islands’) official website alternates between the two, but Black should be consistent.
“Kathleen Aldous and all the other people who are trying to help the butterflies, must be doing something right.” (p. 199). Comma not needed.
“Some of them would been better off unborn.” (p. 200). Should be would have been better off unborn.
“She has no proof that Micah and Mariposa had or are having physical relationship, anyway.” (p. 202). Should be having a physical relationship.
“…an appointment with the twin’s pediatrician…” (p. 205). Should be twins’.
“Ah, Liza sometimes think in amusement…” (p. 208). Should be thinks.
“I had a heck of time getting it out.” (p. 208). Should be heck of a time.
“…parking Cole and Cory in front the idiot box…” (p. 212). Should be in front of the idiot box.
“Sammy looks up at cardboard box high on a shelf…” (p. 212). Should be looks up at the cardboard box.
“I haven’t heard word one about him for many, many years…” (p. 217). This is the same transposition that occurred on p. 116. Why did this happen twice?
Black pluralized I.Qs (p. 223). I’m not going to get into whether or not you should use periods after the initials or an apostrophe S; just use another period after Q or no periods at all.
“But they all try. The really do.” (p. 230). Should be They really do. I will take this opportunity to address the overabundance of these kinds of emphatic statements that litter the text. The overuse of these really and also I just can’t statements, as in I can’t walk away from him now. I just can’t. (p. 280) have a numbing effect as Black uses them to a degree of supersaturation. Surely there are other ways for her to express this sentiment. Long before I reached p. 280 I could only roll my eyes and laugh as I encountered yet another emphatic employing either really or just can’t. It wasn’t just these two expressions that got the literary workout, as Black continued to liberally (and needlessly) insert what the hell, who the hell as well as the tamer what the heck throughout the text, either as direct quotations or in the form of interior monologues. Dace, Liza and their son Micah are the main culprits. The characters are not enhanced by the foul mouths Black gives them. Black did not develop them as individuals, and they seem like delinquent automatons with limited vocabularies. Black wants us to believe that they spend their time reading the newspapers. Fine, but you’d think some of that journalistic cachet from The Globe and Mail would rub off on them. They love to read–wow, literate civilized human beings–but they all talk like Hee-Haw hicks with second-grade educations.
“If Norm and got into the beer…” (p. 230). Sloppy Black forgot something. I suppose she meant to write If Norm and Dace got into the beer.
“If was just him…” (p. 231). Should be If it was just him.
“The first time he wakes up in-between dreams…” (p. 231). No hyphen needed between in between.
“The three storey government building where they’ve scheduled the inquiry, is just a short a walk from their hotel.” (p. 233). Sigh. There are three errors in this one sentence. A hyphen is needed between three-storey. No comma is needed in the sentence at all. There is a superfluous indefinite article between short and walk. If I channel Liza, I ask Black: “How the hell can you publish this novel without noticing not one but three damn errors in a single sentence? I can’t figure this out. I really can’t.”
“…when he was nineteen-years-old…” (p. 236). No hyphens are needed.
“Do you think any of those poor saps out at Mount Cashel got counselling” (p. 238). The quotation ends without punctuation.
“And isn’t it a fact like you like to drink, too…” (p. 240). Should be that you like to drink, too.
“…gives her a chance to pick up a some tequila…” (p. 241). Superfluous indefinite article.
“No way she wants end up on valium…” (p. 241). Should be she wants to end up. I would also capitalize Valium, but will let it go.
“But I’ll drop everything, the minute I can get a flight out of Mexico City.” (p. 245). No comma is needed.
“The shoes and backpacks she’s picked up on her way in, are already lined up…” (p. 252). No comma is needed.
“He’s got some of weird condition…” (p. 254). Should be some sort (or kind) of weird condition.
“…loves him in an crazy obsessive way…” (p. 256). Should be a crazy.
“I can’t focus, she told Irina, which went gone over real swell…” (p. 262). Delete gone.
“To distant herself from whatever Dace might say…” (p. 262). Should be distance.
“It’s what selling right now…” (p. 264). Should be what’s.
“Never in their life together has he sat and around so much.” (p. 265). Delete and.
“They wait a good thirty minutes for Judge Clemens arrive.” (p. 269). Should be for Judge Clemens to arrive.
“The other day the one of the Maitland reporters wrote about…” (p. 271). Delete the second the.
“…had offered similar reasons for ending up in a in training school…” (p. 272). Delete the second in or both a in.
“Maybe because they weren’t there at the same time as Danby and I was…” (p. 273). Should be were.
“And all this before you were twenty five?” (p. 274). Should be twenty-five.
“and he still hasn’t said word one about what happened…” (entire passage in italics; p. 280). This is the third time this transposition error has occurred. Why? Is it Black’s word processing application? Is it AutoCorrect? No one is proofreading anything here, folks.
“Great, she thinks, I might be a target too.” (p. 280). This piece of interior monologue omits to render too in italics.
“She’s so humiliated by what she heard about Summer at the inquiry today that almost doesn’t care.” (p. 280). Should be that she almost doesn’t care.
References to your Honor on p. 288 yet Your honor on p. 298. The issue is not with your versus Your, as the latter starts a sentence. It is with Honor and honor; it’s either capitalized or not.
‘Please get off my sister, Father Danby sir? (entire passage in italics; p. 289). End quote omitted.
“…she’s a raped twenty-one-year old again.” (p. 293). Should be twenty-one-year-old.
“I can something prescribe for that.” (p. 295). Why the inversion? How can this happen in the first place?
“…might end up in Judge Clemen’s report…” (p. 301). The surname is Clemens, thus Clemens’s. Black’s rendering of the possessive indicates the surname must be Clemen.
“One more witness just felt guilty and sorry about he’d done or should have done.” (p. 301). Should be about what he’d done.
“…Father Danby had come up behind Matt in the same room–a place hardly bigger than a walk-in closet reached around him…” (p. 302). Conjunction and missing between closet and reached.
“It never occurred to me tell anybody.” (p. 302). Missing word to between me and tell.
“…I had invited him to come onto me.” (p. 302). The verbal expression is to come on to, which takes on a salacious context if you write to come onto. Do I have to explain this in more detail? (Don’t make me.)
“They’re like modern day seers.” (entire passage in italics; p. 302). Should be modern-day.
“In the matching sweaters coats that their Grandma knit for them…” (p. 307). Missing conjunction and between sweaters and coats.
“…maybe even half out of your mind to do get one.” (p. 312). Delete do.
“The house that’s so full of their children, feels empty without him…” (p. 315). Comma is not needed.
“Watch you language…” (entire passage in italics; p. 317). Should be Watch your language.
“…he’s almost be in Maitland.” (p. 318). I can imagine Black was thinking of writing he’ll almost be in Maitland and then decided upon he’s almost in Maitland (or vice versa) and then didn’t clean up after herself.
neighbour-hood (p. 322). Why the hyphen? Why not neighbourhood?
“…four queen sized beds.” (p. 324). Add a hyphen between queen-sized.
“…every year from Northern Ontario…” (p. 325). Why is Northern capitalized?
A reference to the Santa Claus parade on p. 325. Capitalize Parade.
“She plays women’s hockey a Havergal.” (p. 326). Black means at.
“…she asked in voice so small…” (p. 327). Should be in a voice so small.
“The older boys, Micah especially, spends most of his time in the dining room where Dulce, the owner’s wife and the chief cook, gives him all the food he wants, so he’s in heaven too.” (p. 332). Black has two different subjects in this sentence yet a singular verb. The pronouns’ antecedent is just Micah. An awkward sentence that should be split into two.
“‘Micah,’ she tries to reasons with him…” (p. 335). Should be reason.
“…I haven’t heard word one about him since I moved down here.” (p. 337). What does Black think this expression is?
“…neither the Aldouses or the Devereuxes…” (p. 339). Wrong conjunction. Use nor.
“Wrapping up her china in newspaper and carefully placed the items in discarded grocery cartons…” (p. 344). Should be placing.
“All Micah had to do, was stay out of trouble, get his PhD and write lots of books.” (p. 344). First comma not needed.
“…a little bit of after school tutoring that he sometimes does, but he found a second hand bike…” (p. 345). Hyphenate both: after-school and second-hand.
“Where ever Dace is…” (p. 345). Wherever is one word.
“…but it’s the exactly the right thing…” (p. 348). Superfluous the.
“To keep calling the woman her therapist is bit of a stretch…” (pp. 357-358). Should be is a bit of a stretch.
“…it must been environmental…” (p. 360). Should be it must have been environmental.
“Good looks are kind wasted on a man.” (p. 360). Should be kind of wasted.
“…no matter how many calories she cut backs on…” (p. 361). As I thankfully neared the end of the novel I had a laugh over this one. How about she cuts back on?
“…and that in-between semesters at Trinity.” (p. 362). No hyphen needed between in between.
Black writes twenty five on p. 365 yet twenty-five in the middle of p. 367, and then without the hyphen as twenty five at the end of p. 367.
So there you have it. Even the acknowledgements page has two faults. The next time you write a book, let me line-edit it for you. I will do it for free.