Saturday, April 01, 2006

Your Big Break

Hey, no April Fools, folks! Happy Spring to one and all.
This week I was trying to read a book by Sharon Owen called "The Ballroom on Magnolia Street" and gave up on page 29, while reading about the two dunderhead sisters whose habits and conversation seemed completely vapid. I wanted to like the book, as I love Ireland and generally find its authors interesting, but this particular book fell prey to the old "I'm just going to tell you everything you need to know about the characters instead of showing you through action" problem. Paragraph after paragraph of yammering on about what the character thinks, what happened in the past, etc. YAWN. As this is her second book of three, one would think Owens would know better by now.
Johanna Edwards "Your Big Break" was much more satisfying, in terms of character and pace than Owens work, but it was rather light in the exposition department, so it suffered from the exact opposite problem than Owens novel. I could read the entire novel in 6 hours because it was all dialog, and very little description or deepening of characters. It reminded me of Jennifer Weiner mixed with Helen Fielding minus the dry British wit. I'm talking LIGHT reading here, the fluffy kind of chick lit that you turn to when you're down and exhausted and just want to escape for awhile with a pint of your favorite soy ice cream. The plot revolves around Dani (*cutesy shortening of Danielle--try not to gag) who works at a company that specializes in breaking up couples with customized letters and "break-up kits" that contain everything from DVDs of sad movies to beer and porn magazines. Dani is supposed to follow the 5 cardinal rules of her organization, especially the one that states it's imperative NOT to get personally involved with the clients. Dani, of course, is a complete wimp and a ninny, and gets involved in all her clients lives, to the detriment of everyone involved. She even lies to her parents, because she is ashamed of working for a break-up if this is somehow akin to stripping, prostitution or selling drugs! HA. Halfway through the novel, I wanted to smack Dani the ninny up alongside the head and tell her to stop being such an idiot, grow a spine and tell the truth. But of course, it takes everything around her breaking down for her to do anything. I also found it amazing that she didn't stand up to the EVIL Erin, but instead allowed Erin to force her into a horrible situation. All she had to do was tell the truth and tell Erin to go soak her head, but no, she has to agree and be submissive and meek and ridiculous, and then try to straighten things out later, when its all a huge mess. And we find out at the end that this spineless ninny is going to open her own business? Puuuulllease! I can't imagine it would work with someone that stupid in charge. I think Edwards is smarter than this, personally, and I think she could create a heroine who isn't such a dope, but I would assume she did so because she wanted to cash in on the chick lit craze started by Helen Fieldings Bridget Jones Diary, and heaven knows Bridget wasn't the smartest character on the bookshelf. But she was charming and had a ridiculous obsession with her weight that kept the reader from wanting to drown her halfway through the novel. She was certainly believable, more so than Dani and her cutesy nickname, and her penchant for vomiting when confronted with her parents infidelity. I was disgusted by my own parents infidelity before they divorced, but I certainly never had to run to the toilet to vomit, nor did I lose my lunch on my shoes. Sheez. Get a grip, girl!

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