Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart

Kimberly Stuart's book Act Two was such an enjoyable, funny read, that I was very interested in reading her novel Stretch Marks.

Let's start with the back cover copy:

Mia is a granola-eating, sensible shoe–wearing, carbon footprint–conscious twenty-something living in a multicultural neighborhood in Chicago. Her mother, Babs, is a stiletto-wearing Zsa Zsa Gabor type who works as an activities hostess on a Caribbean cruise line … and if you guessed there’s some tension there, you’d be right. Factor in an unexpected pregnancy and Mia’s idealistic boyfriend—Lars is such a visionary he doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage—and the mother-daughter relationship is, well, stretched very thin. As is Mia’s sanity when Babs shows up to … help.

Actually, Mia has a whole neighborhood of quirky characters who want to help, including her BFF Frankie, a magenta-haired librarian; Silas, the courtly gentleman of indeterminate age who lives downstairs; and Adam, proprietor of the corner grocery store where Mia shops. But it’s Adam—endearing, kind, possessed of a perfect smile and impeccable Persian manners—who ultimately charms Babs and rescues Mia from more than one mother-induced meltdown. Could it be that Mia and Babs might actually be able to get along?

With Kimberly Stuart’s trademark irreverent humor and a surprising and satisfying take on romance, Stretch Marks is an authentic but tender story about family, grace, and the importance of a good grocer.

And now my review:

Kimberly’s earthy, New Agey, vegan, yoga-practicing heroine demands attention from page one. The author paints one comical scenario after another as she unwraps her heroine’s journey.

Some of Kimberly’s humor may offend readers. The book’s back cover copy describes her humor as “irreverent.” Unfortunately, though I wasn’t highly offended, I also didn’t find any endearing LOL moments.

But after reading Zora & Nicky by Claudia Mair Burney, I appreciated Kimberly’s heroine’s relationships with people of multiple races, and her consternation whenever her mother flippantly made ridiculous comments.

As to the romance, I did read far enough to feel this didn’t develop fast enough. I am not a romance snob. :-) I will read non-romance novels, but when a book promises a romance (refer again to the back cover copy) and by midway hasn’t dwelt long enough on it, and if I’m not hooked enough by other elements, I don’t have time (or patience, forgive me) to read on.

Because I did find some elements a bit offensive, I cannot say I’d recommend this book. Perhaps she was attempting to be culturally relevant. I tried to find some redeeming, Christian-like qualities and had a hard time. As I type this review, I cannot remember them in the first half of the book. Perhaps she was saving the best elements for last?

Because I loved Kimberly’s Act Two as much as I did, I gave her second book until half-way through to impress me (in positive ways). Maybe her next book will click for me.

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