By Melissa Amster
I know very little about yoga and don't have much of an interest in it anyway. However, "Stuck in Downward Dog," by Chantel Simmons, was not just about yoga. So I thought I'd give it a try.
What struck me as the most interesting, initially, was that the story took place in Toronto. I haven't been to Toronto since freshman year of high school, so I don't remember much about it. I liked that it took place here because it gave the story more of a unique feel and also gave me a virtual tour of the city.
"Stuck in Downward Dog" is about Mara, a girl whose boyfriend breaks up with her during what is supposed to be "her year," according to her mom. At age 28, she's stuck with a basement apartment she can't afford and a job she hates (not to mention a terrible boss). She is desperately trying to keep up with her best friends who seem to have it all together. Using them both as inspiration, she devises a list of things she wants to accomplish during the summer. To complicate matters, her sister tries to help her by moving in to her apartment and her best friends seem like they could care less about her attempts to improve her life. This all leads to a crazy dinner party and a chance for Mara to turn her life around in ways she never would have expected.
Aside from the fact that I know too little about yoga to follow the yoga scenes and too little about cosmetic surgery to follow some parts of Mara's job, "Stuck in Downward Dog" was a fun book overall. Mara was very easy to sympathize with, even when she was trying to keep up with her friends' lifestyles. Having an evil boss and two stuck up friends definitely put Mara in the reader's favor throughout the story. I even found myself laughing out loud at certain parts. I really liked her gay best friend, Bradford. He provided the voice of reason and also seemed like a genuine friend, someone Mara definitely needed in her corner. Her mom was a piece of work too with all her specially themed cookies. I wasn't sure if I was going to like where the story was going, but I was happy with how things turned out. I also thought it sent a good message to anyone who's going through a situation similar to what Mara was experiencing.
This was Chantel Simmons' first novel and I feel that she has created a character who is easy to relate to and fun to follow along with. I'd love to see what happens to Mara in the future, should there ever be a sequel. I'm also interested in reading Ms. Simmons' more recent novel, "Love Struck," as the style sounds similar.