Summary: Maggie Finley has returned with her husband from the big city to her Wisconsin hometown, where she reunites with her best friend and awaits the any-minute-now birth of her baby. She's determined to create a safe haven on Hemlock Road, a neighborhood that has always meant security, community, and love. One way to do that: resurrect the defunct Neighborhood Watch program.
The Watch folks are mostly concerned with dog poop and litterbugs. But Maggie's done some digging and discovered a potential threat living just around the corner-a threat that must be eradicated. And the more Maggie tries to take control, the more out of control she gets... -- Berkley
A few months ago, Ann Wertz Garvin wrote a great guest post for my Book Club Exchange feature. At the time, I mentioned that I really wanted to read her novel ON MAGGIE'S WATCH. The book sounded interesting and I thought I might be able to relate to a woman who quit her job, moved to the suburbs, and was preparing to be a mom. After reading this novel, I'm not entirely sure that I did relate to Maggie; however, I will say that I enjoyed this novel. It wasn't really what I was expecting, but it was an original story and rather refreshing.
I won't go so far as to say that I loved this book, but I did find it entertaining. I think my biggest issue was with the character of Maggie. Not only wasn't I really able to relate like I had hoped, but I honestly didn't like her for almost the entire novel. I tried to cut her a break because I know how crazy pregnancy can make a girl, but she was just a little too "out there" for me. Maggie was extremely flawed -- I would even go so far as to say she was "crazy" at times. I tried to sympathize with her because she did have some baggage (and there were all those hormones going on), but I just felt she was spinning out of control. As I read this novel, I was sure hoping that she'd be able to straighten out -- not only for herself, but also for her husband and soon-to-be born baby.
ON MAGGIE'S WATCH was definitely an "interesting" book -- and I don't mean that in a negative way. The characters were unique and the story was filled with lots of twists and turns. There were scenes that tugged on my heartstrings and then there were other ones that were laugh out loud funny. While I did have some problems really liking Maggie for much of the novel, I still enjoyed many of the themes of this novel. Of course, I always appreciate stories about female friendships, love and motherhood. But ON MAGGIE'S WATCH also dealt with another theme that is a huge part of my life -- control! As Maggie was experiencing so much change -- moving to the suburbs, giving up her career, the loss of a child, a new pregnancy, etc., she attempted to exert control in the few areas of her life where she could. Unfortunately, the more Maggie tried to control things, the more desperate her actions became; and eventually, Maggie became an out-of-control mess. I do think there is a lesson in there for all of us control freaks!
I was certainly impressed with Ms. Garvin's writing. ON MAGGIE'S WATCH is her debut novel and I won't hesitate to pick up her next book. I thought her dialogue was authentic, and I most definitely appreciated all the humor she wove into the story. I think she did a good job of presenting the serious topics (that we all can relate to) while at the same time keeping the story light and enjoyable.
ON MAGGIE'S WATCH would make a good book club pick -- especially if your group is made up of moms. Moms will definitely be able to understand Maggie's desire to keep her family safe and the lengths she was willing to go to protect them. There is a reading guide in the back of the novel which has some very thought-provoking questions. Some of the topics you might want to explore include grief, loss, changes, friendship, pregnancy, adultery, marriage, protection, and of course control!
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.