Set against the backdrop of lively New York City, and steeped in big decisions, "Engaging Men" by Lynda Curnyn is a delightful read that will make you examine your single days and wonder if there really is merit to any of the theories presented within. It may also encourage you to take that chance that you’ve been considering in the back of your mind.
Three of Angie DiFranco’s ex-boyfriends have proposed…just not to her. Although she maintains a healthy relationship with all of her exes, she’s determined not to miss the marriage train this time around. She’s been dating Kirk for almost two years, and has decided that it’s about time they get serious and start talking wedding, but isn’t sure where she’s been going wrong in her previous relationships.
Angie’s friend Michelle explains it to her like this: men are like pickle jars. Even if you feel like you’re not loosening the lid, you’re still making miniscule changes that will enable someone in the future to *pop* the lid right off. And Angie is rapidly becoming an expert lid-loosener. However, if Michelle’s lid-loosening theory holds true, Kirk’s former girlfriend should have done all the tough work for Angie, and now she just has to give the lid that final twist. Armed with this realization, and Michelle’s trifecta of rules for getting Kirk to notice her again, Angie sets about opening Kirk’s eyes to what’s going on with them.
Meanwhile, Angie’s struggling with her acting gig (a children’s show that requires her to leap around first thing in the morning, wearing a powder blue and yellow outfit) and trying to convince herself that it’s the job of her dreams, when in reality she’s stuck with two jobs that she doesn’t really enjoy. She’s not really convinced deep-down that this is the best use of her talents, and it doesn’t pay enough to keep her from having to maintain her other job, as a phone operator for Lee and Laurie Catalog. Her roommate Justin, on the other hand, is running the gamut of career choices and romantic partners. Angie is completely frustrated and tries time and again to explain to him that he needs to follow her lead and figure out what he wants from life and then go get it, instead of trying everything once. The chemistry between Angie and Justin is delightful to read, and when this novel draws to its logical, but still sweet, conclusion, it’s the type of book that you’ll set aside with a satisfied sigh.
Angie shows remarkable courage and growth throughout this novel, which is just one of the details that keeps it moving along nicely. Even the secondary characters are developed slightly: a detail that makes you feel like you belong with these people, rather than just reading about them and looking from the outside in. Nothing stays flat in this book. Everything grows and moves, and once you put it down, you feel encouraged to do the same.
Don’t be fooled by the growth and courage themes, though. This is still a nice, easy read. Perhaps too easy, if I were to have a criticism for this book. It’s definitely fun and frothy, to the point of being quick to pick up, but also quick to put down. It’s fun in the moment, but it’s very effortless reading that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. I’d definitely recommend giving this book a spot on the bedside table. It’s a comfortable read that’s still uplifting.
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