Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Review: Lauren Takes Leave

By Gail Allison

Have you ever wished you could just throw your hands up in the air and quit your life for a little while? So has Lauren Worthing. A middle school teacher who is starting to feel unappreciated and unfulfilled both at home and at work, Lauren is finding that she has less and less to look forward to every day. So when a jury duty summons arrives in her mailbox, she sees it as few people do: a key to her freedom (and possibly her sanity). Lauren arrives at the courthouse nearly giddy with anticipation, and literally begs one of the selecting attorneys to choose her to sit on the jury. She uses the jury duty (which only ends up being a total of a couple of days at the courthouse) to first take a few day trips here and there, and then tells people she’s been sequestered and ends up in Miami for a long weekend with her two best friends. There are celebrity run-ins, there’s a guy who’s been harboring feelings for Lauren for years, and there’s more than one cocktail thrown into the mix. Will Lauren ever be able to go back to her humdrum life once she’s seen all the world has to offer?

This first novel from Julie Gerstenblatt (you’ll know her work from Huffington Post) is a fun foray into fiction. I did find, however, that it was aggressively fiction. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. I mean it in more of a “you know this will never ever happen to you because series of clichés and coincidences aren’t quite this prevalent in real life” kind of way. Lauren is a fun character, but somehow never has to really pay for her bad behavior. She goes off and does what she wants, and escapes pretty much unscathed. Her relationships are stronger, she finds forgiveness from friends, and she somehow manages to find inner peace. It makes for a comfortable, happy ending for sure, but it’s really not real life.

This book is a lot of fun, and would be a perfect beach read. Heck, I would have taken it to the beach myself if it wasn’t snowing so hard! I found myself rooting for Lauren to find herself and make it out of the giant tangled mess of lies in one piece. It was easy to pick up, a nice light read, and fast to get back into once I had put it down for a little while. Although the situations were a little outlandish and the plot had its fair share of cliché moments, it moved along at a good pace. As well, all of the characters were well-developed enough that you felt like you knew who they were and how they’d react to situations, but not so overly developed that you were bored with them or felt they were taking over the protagonist’s spotlight. It’s a very well-balanced novel in that regard, and doesn’t make the mistake that so many first-time authors make of over-introducing every new character to the point of extreme overkill.

Overall, I’d recommend Lauren Takes Leave. It’s pure chick-lit, pure fun, and a nice easy read. AND it’s only around $5 for Kindle!  After all the baking and cleaning you’ve been doing for everyone else, isn’t it time you treat yourself to this one?

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1 comment:

Sue-Ann said...

Hm, interesting use of jury duty.