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by Debra Galant

Pub Date: March 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-36725-1
Publisher: St. Martin's

In her second genial lampoon of New Jersey life, Galant (Rattled, 2006) takes aim at new-age suburbanites and the national obsession with climate change, among other targets.

The same day that Nina’s newly opened yoga studio floods, her husband Michael’s job as a meteorologist at Newark Airport is outsourced to the Philippines. Nina, a yoga teacher on anti-depressants, turns to feng shui to rid home and business of bad spirits. Soon one disaster follows another. Michael comes under Homeland Security surveillance for studying cloud formations in the Newark Airport parking lot. Nina’s attempt to hide Michael’s job loss from her judgmental mother Belle falters when Belle decides that she and Nina’s father Max should visit to avoid a Florida hurricane. Flying north separately due to a lack of seat availability, Max loses his luggage and his identification, then is mistaken for a crazy homeless person. While at Newark to bring Max home, Michael comes back under Homeland Security radar. Taken into custody at gunpoint, he is interrogated and held in isolation. Meanwhile, Michael and Nina’s son Adam, an eighth grader, attends Lisa Epstein’s outsized bat mitzvah and decides that he wants a bar mitzvah of his own. After all, he’s half Jewish, even if he is being raised as a Unitarian, part of Nina’s attempt to escape her Jewish Princess past. Enticed by Lisa, Adam commits a naughty prank against a teacher and is reprimanded. Shaken, he meets with a Hasidic rabbi who invites Adam and his family to Shabbat dinner. With Michael missing and her business floundering, Nina loses it at the rabbi’s house and says “the F-word.” And the hurricane has followed Nina’s parents north. Although Galant pulls some of her punches and her characters slide toward stereotypes, this family’s troubles escalate in an oddly believable fashion.

Likable, lightweight and meant to appeal to the very people Galant is semi-satirizing.