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by Jane Porter

Pub Date: July 13th, 2006
ISBN: 0-446-69726-5
Publisher: 5 Spot/Grand Central Publishing

Seattle divorcée hopes surf lessons will be a solution to her midlife crisis.

When they divorced, Jackie Laurens’s husband got the vacation house in Palm Springs and a hot young girlfriend. Jackie got the kids and a mega-dose of bitterness. She works as an interior designer, a job that requires her to coddle affluent clients during their outrageous shopping sprees. In her free time, Jackie and her friends gripe about their empty lives and the endless familial obligations that take up so much time. It’s a stretch to feel pity for this privileged crew of heavily caffeinated and flawlessly highlighted ladies. As she nears her 40th birthday, Jackie surmises that her existence is shallow and that she is owned by her possessions. The solution to her malaise is decidedly uninspired—on a quest to simplify her life and find true happiness she books a luxurious getaway to Hawaii. Her search leads her to Kai, a surf instructor. This surfer boy leads a life free from guilt and expectations. Kai provides Jackie with a little spiritual guidance and a lot of steamy sex. Jackie is drawn to his live-for-today philosophy. It doesn’t hurt that this feel-good guru happens to be smoking-hot and ten years younger. The two lovers carry on a long-distance romance that shocks Jackie’s friends and her ex-husband. Despite their disapproval, Jackie continues to see Kai—he makes her feel sexy, young and full of potential, but the impracticalities of the relationship eventually wear Jackie down. She talks a big game about embracing life, but she’s pitiful when it comes to putting her words into action. In the hands of Porter (The Frog Prince, not reviewed), the plight of the middle-aged woman is bleak. The book reads like a rough draft of a memoir, lacking polish and nuance. The ruminations of the heroine are monotonous and the ending is as subtle as a Lifetime made-for-TV movie.

The premise is that women should know more joy in their lives, but this hollow novel is a joyless chore.