Next Up For Review

Next Up For Review
The Center Cannot Hold, Elyn Saks

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I've Never Met a Midlife Crisis I Didn't Like...

Who doesn't love to read about people's lives falling down around their ears? Come on, society thrives on that stuff, so much so that we've coined the term 'gapers delay' for those who can't peel their eyeballs from a deadly crash on the expressway.
If you fall into the category of gawker, gaper, or other lover of melodrama, perhaps you might enjoy:
A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, by Irene Woodbury $7.98 for Kindle
Quirky jobs, wacky friends, hot crushes, and an unraveling marriage are all part of this darkly funny novel describing 45 year-old newlywed Wendy Sinclair’s life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to stay following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005.  
Cover: C
The cover is okay. Covers, by their very nature, are personal to the author/reader's taste. I love the lit Las Vegas sign against the black background; but honestly, I could do without the lady. If you took out the Wendy (main character) you could keep the slot machine. For my taste, there's just a tad too much going on. Key words: 'my taste'. To each his own.

Story: C
Wendy Sinclair, 45 year old newlywed is in the middle of some serious marital turbulence. In an effort to regain some of her sassiness she jets off on a girl's weekend with on again/off again friend Paula to none other than Sin City. Once she's there, she has a midlife meltdown and decides to extend her stay...for what seems to be an eternity.
I love stories about women who struggle against conformity. I love them even more when they include humor. This story has both. 
So why the C grade? Honestly, I felt this story had soooo much potential; but it seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time repeating the same theme without any variations. It focused far too much on food for my taste (and I love food) and other details that detracted from the humor and slowed the flow.
Up until the very last page of the book Wendy moves back & forth between loving her husband, Roger, wanting to see him & rekindle their marriage--and despising the man. The amount of time she spends making the decision of "Yes, I love him; he's mine, nobody else better go near him" and "We'll never make this work. Maybe I should move on and go with one of these other dudes?" is in the real world of marriages (most marriages) about two years too long. If I were Roger, she would have been served in the first eight months; but that's just me.

Overall: C
This book is a pretty quick read. It has some humorous moments peppered liberally with some "Oh hell no!" shockers. I will admit, I didn't see the end coming. I found reading pace picking up as I got closer to the end just to see where Wendy would finally end up. And I also started researching Vegas, as this book gives you the entire history of the city from stem to stern. I also realized, when it comes to Sin City, I missed 3/4 of it on my visit. Maybe I'll have to go back?
If you're the type of person who analyzes a characters motivation/situation/outcome against probable real life scenarios, this book will challenge you. However, if you just want to hop on board and go for a ride...this might be your book of the year. I fall somewhere in between. 
That's all for now folks.
Stay tuned for next week when I review, That Affair Next Door, by Anna Katharine Green

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