Wednesday, April 18, 2012
In Frances’s mind, beautiful, successful, ecstatically married Emma Dunham is the height of female perfection. Frances, recently dumped with spectacular drama by her boyfriend, aspires to be just like Emma. So do her close friends and fellow teachers, Lisa and Jill. But Lisa’s too career-focused to find time for a family. And Jill’s recent unexpected pregnancy could have devastating consequences for her less-than-perfect marriage.
Yet sometimes the golden dream you fervently wish for turns out to be not at all what it seems—like Emma’s enviable suburban postcard life, which is about to be brutally cut short by a perfect husband turned killer. And in the shocking aftermath, three devastated friends are going to have to come to terms with their own secrets . . . and somehow learn to move forward after their dream is exposed as a lie. -- William Morrow
Don't let the cover fool you! If you're anything like me and see shoes and legs on the cover of a novel, you immediately consider the book "chick lit" (not that there's anything wrong with that!) For whatever reason, I didn't read the description on the back of MORE LIKE HER by Liza Palmer which would have given me some pretty strong clues that this book wasn't a light and fluffy read. However, when I opened up this book and read the prologue which describes a 911 call about a school shooting, I knew for sure that this book was going to deal with some very serious issues.
And I shouldn't have been surprised because I've read a few of Ms. Palmer's novels and they are always a wonderful mix of humor and pain. MORE LIKE HER is a powerful story about three best friends who work together at a school. Each woman is facing her own set of issues, yet when they encounter the brutal murder of a woman who seemed to "have it all," they suddenly gain some valuable insight into their own lives and how they perceive others.
The narrator of the story is Frannie and I found her to be a complex character, yet overall very likable. When the novel begins, she is still reeling from a break-up of her two year boyfriend (who also works at the same school); and she does have some major baggage when it comes to relationships. At times, I found her to kind of annoying, but she was so real. (In fact, I had a friend who was so much like Frannie that I could barely believe it.) I loved rooting for Frannie to find a good guy, and I enjoyed seeing her eventually accept and even appreciate herself. By the end of the book, I felt that Frannie grew so much as a woman and a friend; and I found her story to be heartwarming.
What I found interesting about MORE LIKE HER is that after I read the very intense prologue, I kind of forgot about it. (Keep in mind that I still hadn't read the back of the book!) The book seemed like smart chick lit and I found myself getting caught up in these women's lives. I loved how the novel portrayed their friendship as well as their love affairs; and I appreciated the familiarity and banter between them. In fact, the dialogue between the characters was so well written and everything just clicked. It was an extremely entertaining read...
And then the floor fell out from under me. I was quickly reminded of the serious nature of the prologue and suddenly the entire story took on a much darker tone. Prior to this incident, the book was almost light and definitely funny; and while it did deal with some small issues that each of these women had, their problems seemed relatively normal. However, after the shooting, I felt as if the book took on a much deeper meaning. Yes, we all have problems and they might seem to be huge to us, but we need to keep a better perspective on things. In addition, this book served as a reminder that even those of us who seem to have the perfect life have problems... and sometimes they are extremely serious.
One thing I can say for sure about Liza Palmer's books is that they are very real to me. The women in this story were smart and attractive and still felt insecure about certain aspects of their lives. Despite being quite a bit older than them, they seemed very real to me and I could relate to them. Her novel are both funny and sad -- just like real life; and they cause me to think about my own situation. I think that says a lot about her skills as a writer.
MORE LIKE HER would make an interesting discussion for female book clubs. I wasn't able to find a reading guide at this time, but I'm pretty sure that there will be on available in the very near future. Don't let the lack of questions deter you from choosing this novel though. There are so many issues to discuss including love, relationships, friendships, breakups, career choices, self acceptance, first impressions, secrets, and many more. I am pretty sure that women of all ages will be able to relate to this story and find many things to talk about.
I thought MORE LIKE HER was an excellent story and it certainly made me rethink my life and caused me to have a better perspective on things. Highly recommended.
Thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy of this novel.