Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: Bumped

By Gail Allison

Imagine life as you know it being flipped over. Once, you were the city’s “it-girl”, invited to all the right parties and knowing all the right people. You were dating Mr. Right (of course), and you were pretty sure that everyone knew exactly who you both were because you were working the right job in the right industry. Then, in the blink of an eye, it was all upside down. Sibylla Nash explores this mess in “Bumped,” and comes up with some very interesting answers.

Elle Nixon is a publicist in LA. She works with some of the music industry’s biggest stars, and makes sure her name is known in all the right circles. She’s dating Diego Rivera, a high-powered investor, and loving her life. Elle has never needed to worry about the future: she’s got everything she needs in the present. But when Diego doesn’t return home from a business trip as expected, Elle gets the shock of her life. Feeling run-down, Elle stops by her doctor after returning home from a business trip to Paris, and find out that she does not, in fact, have a low-grade bug. She is pregnant. She texts Diego to call her asap, but is meeting him later that day at the airport, where she’s planning to share the “good” news. Neither Diego nor Elle was planning on a baby, so a huge question mark is thrown into the mix. When Elle goes to meet Diego at the airport, she can’t find him anywhere. Assuming she had somehow missed him, Elle races out to Diego’s house, only to find the place crawling with FBI agents. Diego is all of a sudden at the epicentre of a huge investigation: it seems he has swindled his investors out of a LOT of money. Now Elle is pregnant and alone. She has no idea where Diego is, her roommate has just announced that he’s selling their apartment, and (just to throw another monkey wrench into the mix) she goes postal on someone at work, and is summarily dismissed.

This is a story of a middle-aged woman who has always known life to be nothing but superficial trappings, learning to find her legs. It’s about watching a grown-up learn to grow up and be responsible for her actions.

What could have been a very linear story branches out here and there. Even though it’s told in first person, we end up learning a lot about Elle and the people she realizes will always be there for her. Elle finds out what genuine friendship and support looks like for perhaps the first time in her life. It’s written empathetically enough that at times I wanted to smack her for being ridiculous, but other times I was ready to jump up and celebrate with her, when she finally got it right and figured out what she was going to do with herself.

The only bumps (pun totally intended) that I ran into in this book were the choppiness of some of the sentences, but if you can get past it and keep reading, I think it sort of adds to the charm. Elle’s life was never as simple as she thought it was. She had a lot of issues just lurking beneath the surface of her successful facade. The choppy sentence structure and occasional dips into street slang sometimes force you to go back and re-read a paragraph just to ensure you’ve got the right idea from it, but it also keeps you from getting too comfortable with the novel. It almost mirrors Elle’s situation. The book feels like it’s happening in fits and starts, much like everything that’s going on with her. It’s choppy and not quite comfortable, but then again, neither is life.

If you’re still undecided about "Bumped," let me add this little sweetener: this novel is available on Kindle for only 99 cents through Amazon. For less than a dollar, it’s a fantastic deal! Take a chance on this one.

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