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by Claire Cook

Pub Date: July 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-670-03330-8
Publisher: Viking

Second novel from the author of Ready to Fall (2000), this time a low-wattage domestic comedy about a woman adjusting to her first-born’s freshman year in college.

Boston suburbanite March Monroe dropped out of college over 20 years ago to follow her then boyfriend/now husband Jeff to grad school, and she’s led a comfortable domestic life ever since, running typical women’s businesses (party planner, exercise trainer, life coach) and raising Olivia and Jackson. Now that Olivia is starting her freshman year at BU, March follows Jeff’s suggestion and enrolls at the local community college as a returning student. As part of her college curriculum, March takes on an internship at a local radio station. Who should March run into her first day at WQBM but Olivia, also applying for an internship. Olivia acts less than thrilled to see Mom, especially since March has neglected to mention that she’s back in school. Many readers, women in particular, will find March’s narration both annoyingly whiny and self-congratulatory. For all her good-natured complaining, her life is pretty TV-sitcom-perfect. Sure there are annoyances: The family pets get sick; Jackson eats junk food; Jeff doesn’t listen as well as he could, though better than most (plus he buys groceries and gives neck rubs). As for Olivia, there are no lurking problems with sex, drinking, or even identity crises—unless you count a wisdom tooth inflammation. That she’s aloof from, and easily embarrassed by, March doesn’t make for great drama. The plot, such as it is, centers on the mother-daughter radio show March and Olivia end up hosting for a good-looking radio producer with whom March carries on a very mild and brief flirtation. Each chapter begins with a cutesy multiple-choice quiz joke on mothers: hence the title.

Mothers of 18-year-olds may smile in recognition occasionally, but this is really weak.