By Simon Noel
Do brilliance and psychological defects occur together? That often does happen. It definitely happened with Ada Stein who was an outstanding student while studying German in college, but decided it was best to change schools her senior year to be near her father who suffered from a heart attack. The new school though, did not have the needed classes for her so they agreed to allow her to complete her work through independent studies under the direction of a long-time professor. The situation became awkward though when the professor suddenly died and no one at the faculty level had enough expertise to teach German. It was decided that Ada could temporarily teach the class due to her excellence and recommendation from her former school.
Ada, although brilliant, becomes entangled personally and sexually with all types of people, including a student of hers. She has no sense of morality and expects no consequences either positive or negative for her decisions. Also Ada is Jewish and becomes involved with anti-Semitic activities.
OHIO STORY tends to wander at times and seems directionless especially in the beginning. For instance, much of the story involved a state college becoming a private school. It also gets bogged down in legalities. The story does improve as it progresses. Also, I expected more about the history of Ohio since it was called OHIO STORY.
What was lacking in OHIO STORY was the attachment to the characters. After reading the novel, I did not care for any of the characters. They seemed cold and detached. Since this book is supposedly viewing the idiosyncrasies of the people of Ohio, are they all this uncaring and strictly looking out for themselves? What was needed was someone to demonstrate a little compassion somewhere through the events.
I was wondering if this story was based on any real event that might have occurred in Ohio or elsewhere in the turbulent 1960s. The freedom of the main character in terms of her sexual relations without any emotional ties bothered me. The characters were cold and unfeeling.
The author, Simon Noel, bases this story from his experiences at college in Ohio. He works as a lawyer in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
I strongly feel that if the author found a publisher, not a self-publishing agency, that has real people as editors, this could easily be rewritten into a dynamite novel. The basic story line is unusual and the actions are not predictable. The story does need more attachment to the characters in developing their own unique voices and not utilizing “lawyer talk”.
Teri Davis April 11, 2010