Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: All My Restless Life to Live

By Jami Deise

Everyone who knows me – and even some people who don’t – know that I am a huge soap opera fan. When I was in high school in the 1980s, there were 12 soaps on the air and somehow I managed to follow the stories and characters in each one. And although I recently quit watching General Hospital for the fourth time in my life, I still hold the daytime drama genre very close to my heart. So I was very excited to read Dee DeTarsio’s novel, All My Restless Life to Live.

Protagonist Elle Miller is a producer for cable soap I’d Rather Be Loved (IRBL), based in San Diego rather than Los Angeles. However, this book is not a novel version of the movies Tootsie, Soap Dish or Nurse Betty – it does not provide a realistic (albeit funny) look behind the scenes at the making of a daytime soap opera. Elle’s title is producer, but she spends most of her time writing, and is even cajoled into acting at one point. For most readers, these details won’t matter, but for those looking for an accurate behind-the-scenes look at the making of a soap opera, that’s not what this book provides.

What All My Restless Life to Live does provide is a mostly amusing query on what happens after death. Elle’s father died a year ago, and since then Elle’s been holding on to guilt that she wasn’t there. When her computer breaks, Elle asks her mother Irene for her father’s Mac, which Irene has kept as a kind of shrine. Since Elle doesn’t know that Irene dumped her dad’s ashes onto the keyboard, she’s shocked when Irene says no, and eventually performs a switch-a-roo. Soon after, she starts getting messages from her dad on the computer. Is it really him? If so, what is he trying to say? As Elle ponders this dilemma, she also has to deal with problems at her job and her prima donna boss Liam, her attraction to IRBL star Brad, and her new relationship with a doctor – who might be into her or just might be after a prize if he can prove there’s life after death.

All My Restless Life to Live has a lot of funny moments – Elle is a bit of a klutz and is sometimes prone to saying or doing the wrong thing, as many chick lit heroines are. It also has several long conversations about “what happens after you die” between Elle and many different characters, which I started to find tedious. DeTarsio sets up several different plotlines, such as Elle’s mother’s new boyfriend, Elle’s relationship with her best friend Adam, and a set piece at the Daytime Emmys, along with the main thread about her father’s computer. And she does an admirable job in pulling them all together. The novel ends on a sweet, hopeful note.

Overall, All My Restless Life to Live is a fun story with an amusing protagonist. But it’s not the book to give you an inside look behind the scenes at a real daytime soap.

Thanks to BookSparks PR for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Dee DeTarsio:


Dee DeTarsio said...

Thanks for reading and reviewing All My Restless Life to Live, Jami! (I was a One Life to Live girl!) I hope you are having a good summer—filled with great books!

Jami Deise said...

I adored Karen Wolek and always wanted her and Marco to get together....

Connie said...

Oh, Melissa, this sounds like a total hoot and a must read! I’m laughing as I read the review. Thanks for sharing it.

Unknown said...

Great review, I'm intrigue. I was a soap junkie in the 80's. I'm four years sober from GH, but did fall off the wagon during the 50th anniversary!