Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chick Lit Worth Checking Out of the Library If Your Brain Needs a Break

Wanda, the heroine of Time Off for Good Behavior, just can't seem to catch a break. She crashes through a witness box when she tries to take a swing at the defense attorney of the jerks who caused her office building to blow up (landing her in the hospital with severe burns), hits her head on the floor and ends up in the hospital again in a "light coma." She gets fired for missing too much work - because she was in a coma - and she falls in love with the attorney she hires to threaten her former employee for firing her under such terrible circumstances. And then her psychotic and abusive ex-husband - who has tried to kill her before - tells her he's going to kill her, with all signs indicating that he's headed straight to her town. All this and she has a phantom tune that keeps playing in her head that no one else can hear.

Because of all of this, or maybe in spite of it, she befriends a straight-talking therapist who helps her define what she needs to do in order to take back control of her life and, ultimately, prove to herself that she is good enough for the man she's fallen in love with. The reader learns a lot about all of the crap Wanda has been through - some of it her own fault, some of it not - and naturally pulls for her to get her shit together and come out on the other side as a grown-up who actually does something she likes for a living and likes who she is. Which, of course, she does.

I won't pretend that the story isn't a bit predictable and formulaic. But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I did get attached to Wanda as a character as well as some of the other secondary characters (particularly her friend Elizabeth's kids) and I got some catharsis. It was like watching a reasonably good Lifetime movie (I know, those are few and far between). Since I'm currently reading Middlemarch and A Short History of Nearly Everything with Infinite Jest in line to be next, I needed the mental break!

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