Sunday, August 31, 2008

Review: Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead

Summary: In Mindy's yoga-obsessed, thirty-is-the-new-wife neighborhood, every day is a battle between Dunkin' Donuts, her jaws-of-life jeans, and Beth Diamond, the self-absorbed sancti-mommy next door who looks sixteen from the back. So much for sharing the chores, the stores, and the occasional mischief to rival Wisteria Lane.

It's another day, another dilemma until Beth's marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Suddenly the Ivy League blonde needs to be “friended,” and Mindy is the last mom standing. Together they take on hormones and hunger, family feuds and fidelity, and a harrowing journey that spills the truth about an unplanned pregnancy and a seventy-year-old miracle that altered their fates forever.

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead is a hilarious, stirring romp over fences and defenses that begs the question, what did you do to deserve living next door to a crazy woman? Sometimes it's worth finding out. -- Avon

I've been blogging for about seven months now; and I have to admit that it still makes my day when an author contacts me and asks me to read their book. A little while back, Saralee Rosenberg e-mailed me with an offer that I couldn't refuse -- she wanted to send me a copy of her latest novel DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. I was actually somewhat familiar with Ms. Rosenberg because my book club read another one of her books called A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE.

I thought DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD was a hoot! This was a very light, read (for the most part); and I found myself chuckling on a pretty regular basis. From the description on the back of the book, I was thinking that this book would kind of be a "fluff" read -- not that there's anything wrong with that. This book did have humorous characters and comic situations that were on the lighter side; however, I was pleasantly surprised that there were also some very real and very serious issues.

Ultimately, I found this book to be about the bond between women and the strength of female friendships. There were also a lot of other issues touched on in this story including marriage difficulties, financial problems, parenting issues, and drug use. I thought the author did a good job of developing the characters and drawing the reader into their lives. I especially liked that the characters seemed to mature and appreciate their lives by the end of the story -- even the ones that were kind of hard to like.

I think anyone that would pick up DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD would find things that they could relate to. The main character of Mindy was often times an overwhelmed mom who was constantly trying to manage her life -- her job, her three kids and their schedules, her family's finances, difficult relatives, crazy neighbors, her weight, etc. I know I can relate to more than a few of the things going on in her life. And while Mindy's neighbor Beth was a little over-the-top, I think a lot of people will recognize someone they know who has at least one or two of her "more endearing" qualities.

DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is published by Avon, an imprint of Harper Collins, so it included the A+ section at the back of the book. As I've mentioned a few times, I think these extras are terrific; and I definitely feel that they enhance my enjoyment of the book. I found one section especially interesting, though -- "Celebrating the Kindertransport." (I don't want to give too much away about the story, but there were some characters that had been rescued by the Kinderstransport program.) This section explained that the Kindertransport was a British-run rescue mission during World War II that allowed Jewish children from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia to enter the country by themselves. They were placed with foster parents until they could eventually be reunited with their parents. I wasn't aware of the Kindertransport, and I found it fascinating that this really occurred!

Ms. Rosenberg has a wonderful sense of humor, and I think she really did a great job of poking fun at suburban moms! She also has a great website that has a lot of interesting stuff to look at. You really need to check it out because the site is so cool -- it's set up as if it were a magazine. You will definitely get a good idea of her wit, and there's even a link to her blog (which is pretty entertaining too!) I love that she has a section especially for book clubs which explains how to invite her to your next meeting (by phone, of course.) And, Ms. Rosenberg also provides lots of interesting topics and questions to get your book club discussion about DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD on the right track.


Cheryl said...

I keep hearing good things about this book. I will have to read it

Anonymous said...

I received this book as a surprise with another book I agreed to review. Your review makes me want to pop it to the top of the TBR pile ... it sounds like it has substance and a lot of wit!

Anna said...

Great review! Sounds like an interesting book, especially that part about Kindertransport.

--Diary of an Eccentric