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by Kris Radish

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-553-38476-5
Publisher: Bantam

Four women are sentenced to a very unusual anger-management class.

Olivia, a Chicago psychotherapist, is launching a daring new variant of the anger-management group sessions she has been leading for years. Her latest patients have been court-ordered to attend the class in lieu of jail, after angry outbursts landed them in the criminal-justice system. Kit went after her brother with a broken bottle after he criticized her care during their elderly mother’s final weeks. When a deal falls through, Jane, a once-affluent broker whose business was decimated by the Crash of ’08, beats a colleague with a stiletto shoe. Exhausted after a hard day of nursing, Grace reacts to her teen daughter Kelli’s disobedience by wrecking Kelli’s boyfriend’s car. Leah, who lives in a domestic-abuse shelter, hits one of her children. To varying degrees, all four patients have man problems. Olivia, abetted by her amazingly sentient cocker spaniel Phyllis, challenges the women with assignments that reflect the unspoken longings of each: Jane is sent on a nature hike and to a children’s birthday party, and Kit to a comedy club. Leah is chauffeured for a mani/pedi, and Grace escapes from a singles event to close a bar with a fellow divorcée. Group excursions include sessions at a rifle range and a bowling alley. All the women, including Olivia, harbor secrets. The framework of an anger-management class offers many opportunities for spellbinding storytelling, and Radish avails herself of almost none. Too often the women’s debacles provide a platform for platitudinous preaching and pat affirmations rather than for insightful examination of their anger issues.

An intriguing concept, woefully underdeveloped.