A topical soap opera from bestselling novelist Meacham (Roses, 2010, etc.), set on the familiar turf of small-town Texas.
Big hair is a big part of such places, but especially in the big-hair era of the early 1980s. Meacham captures the period details in her description of 11-year-old Cathy Benson, “her attitudes already formed by her upbringing and the ways and lifestyle of her native state”—that being California, the antipode of Kersey, Texas, with all the free-spiritedness and antinomianism that the Golden State might bring to the Lone Star State. Without really meaning to, Cathy gets inside the heads of two local boys, up-and-coming football stars for whom girls are a forbidden but irresistible attraction. What’s a quarterback to do? Well, one thing leads to another, and another, and another, and Cathy finds herself with a love bump and no place to go. Ah, but therein hangs much of the action of the book, which can be seen coming from a long way off; suffice it to say that the shotgun at book’s end isn’t necessarily meant to enforce a wedding. The plot is serviceable, the writing sometimes less so; one wonders what to do with a sentence such as, “The way he’d always thought of her had vanished as suddenly and completely as the boy’s make-believe playmate in the song ‘Puff, the Magic Dragon.’ ” Beg pardon? The soundtrack here ought to be provided by Boy George, if not Mickey Gilley. And there’s got to be a rule about expository sententiousness along the lines of “The town’s expectations were a heavy weight on their shoulders.” True enough, but no heavier than events are about to place on the lads, for all the unhappiness and convenient storyline twists that they entail.
Though full of groaners—“It was a drive down memory lane”—Meacham’s latest is of a piece with her past work, and sure to find an eager audience among romance buffs.