When I first heard the title of Adena Halpern's latest novel, I kept thinking of the Barenaked Ladies' song with the same title. And when I read the lyrics to that song, it made sense with the theme of the story. Nevertheless, this story is definitely something I'll think about the next time I hear someone say "pinch me."
Lily Burns has met the man of her dreams. He even asked her to marry him! Problem? She is cursed by her great-great-aunt who retaliated from her sister's selfish act and it has affected the love lives of all the women in her family since then. If Lily marries someone she loves, that person will suffer the consequences. However, instead of listening to her mom and grandmother, Lily elopes with her soul mate, Gogo. Then she asks him to pinch her and before she knows it, she's back in her single life and Gogo doesn't even know who she is. He's married to someone else and living a different life than the one Lily knew him to have. All she knows is that she has to make him fall in love with her again, regardless of the consequences.
"Pinch Me" is my first experience with Ms. Halpern's writing and I definitely want to read her other novels now. It was refreshing, honest, funny, romantic and everything else that I look for in a novel. I love that there was a conflict that weaved through the entire story, giving it a full arc. While readers will need a suspension of disbelief for this novel, it makes for a fun "what if," cautionary tale. Lily is easy to relate to and definitely a sympathetic character. I just wanted her to "win" the entire time. Dolly and Selma, her grandmother and mother (respectively), are hilarious. I love their personalities and the crazy banter between them. I also love that there was a surprise around every corner. I thought it would be predictable, but it wasn't at all. There were so many ways this story could go, and Ms. Halpern made the most of it.
My only small and minor criticism has to do with timing. At one point, she mentions that e-mail and cell phones were not available 12 years ago. Unless this was taking place in 2001 (which it clearly was not, given the pop culture references), there's no way that would be true. E-mail was definitely around in 1999, as were cell phones. If she even wanted to date back a few years more, it still wouldn't have worked. E-mail has been around since the mid-90's, if not earlier. Cell phones were bigger and chunkier, but they were also coming into existence. Aside from that, things fell into place a little too perfectly in the end (I won't say how as to not spoil things) but this was meant to be a fairy tale in a way, so that usually happens in fairy tales. And I wanted a happy ending, so I'm satisfied with that.
Another thing I really liked was how Ms. Halpern explored the idiosyncrasies of a relationship so beautifully. It reminded me of why I fell in love with my husband and why I still love him almost 10 years later. I love how she took us into Gogo and Lily's romance so naturally and allowed us to feel like we could live vicariously through them, whether or not we had that kind of love already. There's an interview with Ms. Halpern at the end of the book and I like what she has to say about love and soul mates. It was also interesting to see what inspired this novel, and it wasn't the Barenaked Ladies' song.
Overall, I give Ms. Halpern major kudos on a creative and entertaining novel that I had a difficult time putting down. I read that Ms. Halpern's other two novels are being optioned for film, but I think "Pinch Me" would make a great movie. I recommend this to anyone who wants to be swept away into a great story and to not be let go after they've finished reading it. I can't wait to see what Ms. Halpern comes up with next!
Thanks to Chick Lit is Not Dead for picking me as one of the winners of this novel.
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