Pelletier (A Marriage Made at Woodstock, 1994, etc.) is funnier than ever in this sardonic tale of an upstate Maine mother's love for her underachieving son--even as he's taking hostages in his ex-wife's trailer home and babbling to the press that John Lennon made him do it. Mattie Gifford may never have traveled far from Mattagash, but at age 66 she knows the difference between her three good-for- nothing, gossipy, middle-aged daughters and Sonny, their younger brother and Mattie's golden child. At 36, Sonny hasn't done much more with his life than get arrested for playing pranks and wander from one pretty girl to the next, but Mattie has always managed to talk the authorities out of punishing him too severely, and in return Sonny has always paid tribute to his dear old mom. But this episode, Mattie realizes, is different, as her exultant daughters switch on the TV news to reveal that Sonny has apparently gone crazy down in Bangor, kidnapping two women and a poodle from a local bank and locking them up in his ex-wife's trailer. Sonny's claim that John Lennon appeared on his television set, commanding him to do something to focus the world's attention on starving children everywhere, is typical of the oversensitive boy Mattie remembers. Police descend on the trailer park, reporters snoop around Mattagash, and friends and relatives alternately harass and comfort her while Mattie concentrates on trying to figure out where she went wrong. Acknowledging that she has failed to achieve either of a woman's two basic requirements for happiness--marrying her best friend and loving the work she does--Mattie determines that it's not too late to put her life in order, even as Sonny's confrontation leads to its inevitably tragic end. Pelletier hits just the right mix of vulnerability and humor in her latest work, leaving the reader hungry for more.