A chattery yet appealing return to the turf of Fifty Acres and a Poodle (2000): the author’s life on and off Sweetwater Farm in Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania.
No longer plagued by country mouse/city mouse doubts, Laskas is taking to her rural existence. “I am really happy,” she writes, simple words so many wish they could say. “I love living here. Driving around, you feel like you've entered a very good dream.” Then, to her husband Alex, “I'm happy. I'm madly in love with you. I often feel like the luckiest person alive to have this life.” By now, readers are getting the point: (1) Laskas is happy; (2) she likes to cover the ground thoroughly, like a blue tick working a scent. Inevitably, there is a snake in her Eden: her mother’s sudden paralysis. Laskas, the youngest child in her family, is hit broadside, seeing Mom as a “helpless bird” and herself as the “Utterly Useless Sister” (though her bedside presence is anything but). As her mother recovers, Laskas notices that “the more I stand here caring for my mother, the more of her helplessness I see, the more mother I seem to become.” The 40-year-old author wants a child of her own, but her eggs aren't what they used to be, nor is her 50-something husband’s sperm. Difficult as it is, Laskas manages to find the humor in failed in-vitro fertilization: “And my story, at the moment, is a used needle in a Wal-Mart bathroom.” (It’s a long story.) The couple decides to adopt a Chinese child, and no matter how tired readers are of the author’s mutts and neighbors, they will probably fall hard for her first meeting with her daughter. “Right. I know what to do. Of course I do. Here goes. This is what a mother does. I open my arms, and she falls in.”
Laskas is an endearing, scrambled character, her swarming thoughts torturing readers as they torture her.