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A mom tries—and spectacularly fails—to fit into her new picture-perfect town.

When Holly Banks moves to the Village of Primm, she hopes it will be the start of a new adventure for her family. With its wonderful school system, immaculately tended lawns, and superinvolved parents, Primm couldn’t be anything less than perfect. However, aspiring-filmmaker Holly soon realizes that the town bears a slightly creepy resemblance to Stepford (of the famous wives), and no one appreciates her minor failures to live up to the status quo—like, for example, showing up to kindergarten drop-off while wearing pajamas or accidentally hitting a school bus in her attempts to move her car. Holly quickly finds a nemesis in PTA president Mary-Margaret St. James, a bizarrely Primm-obsessed mom who talks about herself in the third person and won’t let Holly leave the premises without volunteering for something (and not just for napkin duty, because everyone knows only the slacker moms sign up to bring napkins). But Holly has other things to worry about—for starters, she thinks her husband might be having an affair, she constantly has to pay her mother’s gambling debts, and she’s feeling bored and restless after putting her filmmaking dreams aside. Holly starts making her own documentary using the subject matter in front of her but soon realizes that Primm's perfect veneer hides more than a few secrets. There are many novels about women struggling to fit into upper-class communities, but debut author Valerie manages to create a story that feels fresh, with sparkling dialogue that could have come from a weirder version of Gilmore Girls. Most of that is due to Holly’s voice, which is quirky without ever being annoying, and the cast of wacky side characters who are satirical while still feeling like real human beings. There are even several laugh-out-loud moments, most of them revolving around the bug infestation destroying the town’s prized topiaries, a privileged problem that highlights just how hilariously ridiculous the Village of Primm is.

A unique and over-the-top look at modern motherhood, full of funny and cringeworthy moments.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5420-1406-9
Page count: 378pp
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2019