Thursday, November 5, 2009

Miss Harper Can Do It by Jane Berentson

Elementary school teacher Annie Harper's boyfriend David is deployed to Iraq in 2003, and she begins a journal for herself, envisioning a blockbuster memoir. Instead of a sappy romantic tell-all, however, she ends up using the journal to vent, fantasize, clear her head, and figure out what she wants from her relationship.  She alternates between missing David deeply and being angry with him for leaving; she has plenty of arguments (on paper) with George W. Bush as well. Static-y phone calls and occasional emails aren’t enough to keep her satisfied.To quell her loneliness, she adopts a pet chicken and volunteers at a nursing home, becoming friends with a woman whose husband may have been a World War II hero.Meanwhile, her best friend Gus becomes more and more attractive, and Annie has to determine whether or not this is a symptom of missing David.
Berentson peppers her realistic tale with funny situations and dialogue.  Although Annie is decidedly anti-war, readers of any political persuasion can sympathize with her complex emotions, and her story rings true.

copyright 2009 Library Journal/Rebecca Vnuk


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West

Mermaids in the Basement by Michael Lee West. 

Screenwriter Renata comes from a true Southern family, complete with a formidable grand dame grandmother.  When Renata’s actor boyfriend is written up in the tabloids for an alleged affair, she runs away to grandmother’s estate, Point Clear, in Alabama.  Still mourning her mother’s untimely death, she is looking for solace and rest.  Unfortunately, she finds life getting more dramatic as the days go on.  At her father’s engagement party, his new fiancĂ©e is found unconscious in a pool and Renata is the prime suspect.  She can’t seem to get in touch with her boyfriend to get the straight story from him.  And she discovers that her parents led secret lives she was never privy to, until now.  Grandmother Honora and pals have decided it’s time to let all of the skeletons out of the family closets.
West has a knack for realistic and engaging characters.  This is a charming tale that will keep readers wanting to know more about the characters inhabiting Point Clear. 

copyright 2008, Library Journal/Rebecca Vnuk