Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#BookReview: The Floater - Sheryl Sorrentino

At the age of 46, Norma Reyes graduated with her law degree, fully expecting to be offered a spot as a first year associate at Robertson, Levine & Shemke (RLS), the firm where she'd clerked the previous summer and received such high praise.  Twenty years of working her way up to supervisor of phone operators while going to school at night have finally paid off.  And even though her ailing mother ridicules her dreams, Norma is determined to make it.

The partners at RLS have never taken Norma seriously.  Yes, she did good work in her summer position, but they would never hire an associate from a less than prestigious law school.  Norma didn't look like them and certainly wouldn't fit in with their client base, given her ethnic background. Luckily, the recession gives them an excuse when they deny her employment as an attorney. While they won't hire her as an attorney, they will hire her as a floater.  Grudgingly, Norma accepts the job, believing that it will only be temporary and that once she passes the bar, she'll be offered the position she deserves.  Poor, gullible Norma.

Weeks of being belittled by everyone from senior partners to first year associates (a group she should have been a part of) start to wear on Norma.  A chance encounter with Oscar Peterson, the mail room supervisor, makes Norma's life a little more bearable.  But their happily ever after is disrupted when Oscar gets wind of a memo about Norma, drafted by one of the senior partners.  Norma will have the fight of her life on her hand if she can get her courage up enough to do something about it.

I was torn between liking, pitying and hating Norma.  It was obvious from the beginning that dealing with her family and men had bruised her self-esteem, but she had to have guts to go back to law school at night at her age.  So while I loved that she was courageous enough to do that, I was mad that she let the attorneys mistreat and lie to her repeatedly while she accepted it.

I also vacillated between liking and disliking Oscar.  He seemed to have Norma's interests at heart, but he was so overly aggressive and insensitive at times that I kept waiting for him to break her heart like her previous boyfriends.  Even by the end of the book, I wasn't sure that she should be with him and wanted to yell out like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, "You in danger, girl!"  Perhaps the author didn't develop Oscar enough to make him likable or maybe it was her intent to make the reader distrust him.  Either way, I can't say that I was happy to see Norma with him.

Another thing that bothered me was how long Norma stayed with the firm, because surely working there as a floater was not the first time she witnessed the assholeness of the place.  As a clerk during the summer, she had to see the way partners treated the support staff.  Or perhaps it was okay with her then because she saw herself as one of them (attorney) instead of one of them (support staff).  Which lends itself to the question, is the mistreatment of others excusable based on their rank in the company hierarchy?  Apparently it was at RLS.

Published: August 2012
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

Theme: Do Something by Macy Grey

Monday, October 29, 2012

#BookReview: Passing Love - Jacqueline E. Luckett

Because you are to me a song,

I must not sing you over long.

Because you are to me a prayer,

I cannot say you everywhere.

Because you are to me a rose,

You will not stay when summer goes.

- Passing Love by Langston Hughes

Ruby Mae Garrett looked out for herself and made no apologies for it.  From the moment she saw Arnett Dupree, she was a woman possessed.  Actually, she was a girl possessed, but at 16, she thought she was a woman.  So when her strict mother caught wind of Ruby Mae sneaking off with the horn player, she put an end to it.  Never one to be outdone, Ruby Mae had to have the last word and the day she left her parent's house was the last day she spoke to them.

Nicole-Marie Roxane grew up loving all things French.  Her infatuation started with a small, blue French to English dictionary she found in her parent's cedar chest.  Speaking French with her father strengthened their special bond.  One day the dictionary was gone and not another word about it or French was spoken.

Fast forward to present day, 56 year old Nicole is tired of watching life pass her by. She's wasted over half of her life on a married man who still dangles the "I'll leave my wife and marry you when the time is right" carrot in front of her.  If it wasn't for her friend insisting that she go to Paris, Nicole probably would have continued to only dream of going.  But she's finally on her way to 30 days of exploring the country that's always fascinated her.

When Nicole's explorations lead to the discovery of a picture of her father in his military uniform over fifty years ago, she has to know why the picture is there, who owned it and what their connection is to her Alzheimer suffering father.  Though her mother offers little information over the phone, she does send her enough information to set Nicole off on a fact finding mission, knowing that she may not like what finds out.

As we've seen in Searching for Tina Turner, and as she again shows us in Passing Love, Jacqueline Luckett writes books about women who we rarely see as the protagonist.  As was Lena in Searching, Nicole is a woman of a certain age.  Both women feel under-valued and -appreciated by the people in their lives and set off on journeys to rediscover their self-worth and, of course, by the end of the books, they have.

Published: January 2012

Theme: April in Paris by SarahVaughan

Monday, October 15, 2012

#BookReview: Falling Together - Marisa de los Santos

We're all familiar with the poem that states, "People come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime."  From the first day they meet as college freshmen, Pen, Will and Cat are sure that they're destined to be in each other's lives forever.  Within their symbiotic relationship, Pen is the caretaker, Will is the thinker and Cat is the carefree spirit that makes the friendship work.

As adults, their friendship continues until the day Cat makes the decision to leave the group, with the request that they not try to find one another in the future.  Though Will and Pen try to make their friendship work without Cat, she's the missing piece of their puzzle and so they too agree to end their friendship.  But not a day goes by that Pen doesn't think of her friends and wonder if she's left an empty space in their lives as they've left in hers.

The day an email arrives from Cat asking both Pen and Will to attend their college reunion because she needs them, both are hesitant, but it's Cat, so, of course, they'll attend.  Except Cat isn't there, at least not physically, her husband is and he's the one that needs their help.

Cat's presence is felt so strongly throughout this book, though she's mostly spoken of in third person.  As much as Will and Pen adored her, I came away from this book disliking her immensely.  Pen and Will, but especially Pen, have had so much faith in her and remembered so many good things about her.  I'd agree with them that she was a light-hearted free spirit, but she was also selfish and unfeeling.  You certainly can't expect your friends to be the same way they were years ago, but to be dismissive of them as if they never played an important role in your life is cruel.

Looking back, Cat played the child to adult-like Pen and Will when they were students.  So she expected them to take care of her until she was ready to take care of herself and when she was ready to do that, she no longer had any use for them.  Like parents that sometimes fall apart when their child leaves the nest, Will and Pen fell apart without Cat.  I think that's why I dislike her so much.  It's her departure that interrupts their lives for years until she summons them.

I didn't expect to be so drawn in to Falling Together or to become so heavily invested in the characters.  Marisa de los Santos tricks the reader into caring about the characters by making them fully developed multi-dimensional characters.  This was my first read from her and I can't wait to delve into more from her.

Published: October 2012
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

Theme: Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye