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Saturday, September 24, 2011

THE HAZARDS OF EXPECTING RELATIONSHIPS TO BRING HAPPINESS -- A REVIEW

When Zoe Clark's fiancé dumps her just before their big splashy wedding and after more than a decade together, she is stunned. And blindsided. When she discovers why, she suddenly doubts her instincts, her abilities to even have a relationship. And her job as a headhunter for a micromanaging, sometimes crazy boss doesn't give her much confidence, either.

After a period of mourning, time well spent in the company of best friends Angela and Kevin, she is suddenly swept up into what looks like a perfect relationship with the gorgeous advertising executive who works across the street. But is Oscar Thornton who he seems to be? And if something seems perfect, or too good to be true, what if it isn't?

I loved the characters in this story, from the great friendships between Zoe, Angela, and Kevin to the work relationships with people like Marvin, who sips from a flask in his desk, to New Girl, who tries very hard to forge her own way in the headhunting world. Even the micromanaging boss Carol made me laugh, as I recognized in her some of the bosses I've had over the years, one in particular.

But Oscar...now he was like a fictional hero, with his good looks, his charm, his money, and how he seemed to know just the right moves. In some ways, I really wanted him to be what he seemed, even as I knew he wouldn't be.

I was a bit surprised by events that unfolded, but then again, someone that perfect has to be hiding something big.

I especially enjoyed how the book ended, with Zoe finally realizing that, in order to be happy, she has to know what she wants. And she has to realize that happiness is an inside job. She has to make herself happy.

Great metaphorical connection between headhunting as a career and "hunting" for a new lover. The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbrokenis a wonderful five-star read that I recommend for anyone who loves books about careers, relationships, and Manhattan.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

LIVES FOREVER CHANGED -- A REVIEW

What if you were just going along in your life, doing the usual chores and maintaining the relationships that you have almost come to take for granted...and then, suddenly, everything was no longer usual? Loved ones were seemingly zapped into nothingness, with no particular rhyme or reason. You're having dinner, you go to the kitchen, and when you return your family is gone.

These are the scenarios that plague a suburban American town in The Leftovers. Truly, the ones left behind cannot understand why they were left, or why the ones "raptured," if that is what this is, were chosen. They were just ordinary people, some of them not even religious. So why?

Slowly we move through the lives of those left behind, seeing the shells that some of them have become. A few of them simply cannot stand having life that makes no sense anymore and join a cult-like group called the Guilty Remnant. These folks wear white, have taken a vow of silence, and have set themselves up to convert the others via their roles as Watchers. They follow, they stare, and they try to recruit.

In a sense, the narration feels muted and emotionless, but I believe the author purposely chose this somewhat detached style to characterize how flat the landscape is in a life that has been decimated. Emotions are tricky and they betray us. Flat, detached, going-through-the-motions life feels more appropriate, perhaps.

I liked some characters better than others, but in each case, I could see why they behaved the way they did. And throughout this story, with its unexpected ending, I felt as though they were people I could connect with...if they would allow connections to happen. As usual, Perrotta delivers a masterful story. Five stars.

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Laurel\-Rain's bookshelf: to-read

Mary Ann in Autumn: A Tales of the City NovelHanna's DaughtersMiss Hildreth Wore BrownElizabethSolomon's OakSolomon's Oak

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