Monday, August 30, 2010

Julie's Review: Pieces of Happily Ever After

Summary: When Hollywood entertainment lawyer Alex Hirsh starts hitting the gym and sporting Armani, his wife, Alice, chalks it up to a midlife crisis. But soon Alex—now the execrable Xander—is all over the tabloids, caught canoodling with his newest client, man-eating actress Rose Maris. Cue Alice's tears, rage, breakdown, followed by a bumpy and comic road to happiness, right? Yes and no: the novel walks a familiar path, but there are plenty of details to keep the story feeling fresh. Alice is entertainingly judgmental, and the new friends she makes as a divorcée are winning: there's Nancy, who wears horrible Hallmarky sweatshirts but curses a blue streak, and Ruth, a former porn star desperate to protect her son from her past. Naturally, there's a love interest for Alice, but the real love story is the one between Alice and her precocious six-year-old daughter. And it's their sweet, complicated relationship that lifts this tale above the slew of competing family dramas.

Review: As soon as I picked up Pieces of Happily Ever After and read 10 pages, I knew I was going to really enjoy this book. After all it had me reeled in very quickly. Alice, aka Ally, is your typical mom...frazzled. She's got a smart 5 year old daughter who tests her at every turn and believes that fairy tales aren't stories but reality. Not only is she dealing with that but her beloved mother has Alzheimer's and is in a care facility. Her husband of 6 years, Alex, has been working late, working out and working with a a new client, superstar Rose Maris. Well you already know what happens, so that's not a shock but what surprised me was the direction that Ms. Zutell took in the novel.

For me this wasn't a typical "chick-lit" book about divorce or getting back at your husband, it was about making your own life. Ally soon found out that she didn't want to go back to work at an office, that she wanted to be home for and with Gabby. Ally begins to rely on friends that she wouldn't have otherwise met and they become her support group. She learns to not be so judgmental and open herself up to others.

The concept that I loved the most was that she quickly introduced the romantic interest but didn't revisit the storyline until the last part of the book. Ms. Zutell spends the majority of the book with Ally and Gabby and defining their relationship.

At times I felt that Gabby had her head in the clouds and neither of her parents did anything to rectify the situation. That being said, I have a 5 year old daughter, so I know it's not easy but having Gabby become a "pebble star" is probably my one thing that bothered me. I just think that not all kids who can sing, dance and dream are set to be stars. I get that they had the connections, it still just rung untrue for me.

If you are looking for a fun, thoughtful read for Labor Day weekend, then run out and get yourself Pieces of Happily Ever After. You'll finish it while at the beach.

Final Take: 4/5



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