Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Baker's Dozen of Reviews: Day Four--Love Rehab

Love Rehab: 
A Novel in Twelve Steps
By Jo Piazza
Open Road Media e-Original
Release Date: June 4, 2013

Sophie is an illustrator of children’s books, but her work is stacking up undone. Her personal hygiene and friendships are suffering, and Sophie is spending far too much time vainly checking her cell phone for calls that are never made. Unable to let go of Eric, her cheating ex-boyfriend, she cyber stalks him and the woman for whom he dumped her, Floozy McSecretary, a big-boobed, sexting blonde. When Eric finally calls, it’s with a threat to call the police after Sophie and her best friend Annie, drunk past the point of reason and discretion, create a Facebook page for Eric’s penis.

Sophie is not the only one in trouble. When her best friend Annie, owner of a local bar, “borrows” a police car and races through their hometown of Yardville, New Jersey, endangering property and feline lives, she is charged with DUI and ends up with a suspended license and court-ordered counseling and AA attendance. Sophie agrees to attend the meeting with her, although Sophie rarely drinks. Annie is silent during the meeting, bothered by the presence of bar customers and her pediatrician, but Sophie finds comfort in the confession and support of the AA group. She is struck by the similarity between her experience with Eric and the experiences of the AA members. Sophie is a love addict, and she knows other women who are also love addicts. With the encouragement of Joe, the AA leader, she starts Love Addicts Anonymous.

Thanks to Sophie’s editor putting out the word and Sophie contacting all her friends with relationship problems, thirty plus women show up for the first meeting. Among them is Prethi, who has been dumped by her doctor fiancé for a brain surgeon. Jobless, homeless, and embarrassed to tell her traditional Indian parents what has happened to her, Prethi finds refuge in the aging six-bedroom Victorian that Sophie inherited from her grandmother. Soon the house becomes a rehab facility for women in various stages of love addiction, with some members living in-house and others “‘outpatients’ who commuted in on Sundays.”

Love Rehab is light chick-lit. It is genuinely funny with some great dialogue and some scenes that will leave most readers laughing out loud. Some of the humor may come with a sting as readers recognize a comment or a situation that comes close to home. You don’t have to be under thirty-five to recognize the woman who is divorcing her cheating husband and talks incessantly about her heartbreak to everyone from her closest friends to the gas station attendant or to understand when Sophie admits, “I just wanted my boyfriends to like me so much that I never really considered whether I liked them.”

The ending is a bit too starry-eyed to be fully credible, and Joe, who has the potential to be complex and interesting, ends up being little more than a means of giving Sophie her HEA, or at least a HFN. Still, it is an entertaining read with some accurate revelations about the degree that women see themselves as defined by a man who views them as worthy—or unworthy—of his love. If you are in the mood for laughs perhaps accompanied by some insights, you should give Love Rehab a try.

Do you read chick-lit? I read an article in the Atlantic recently that said the subgenre, at least in its best known form, is dead. What do you think?

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