A flamboyant Broadway actress helps out her sister by caring for her nephew—a Down syndrome teenager—for a month.
Geneva Jordan has just discovered she’s not the center of the universe after all. Her run in a hit musical has ended, and she’s been jilted by her lover, co-star Trevor, a studly British actor with a penchant for ingénues. What to do but sulk and moan? She might as well help out her mousy sister Ann, who’s begging her to watch her 13-year-old son Richard so Ann can take a long-overdue vacation with her husband. Geneva reluctantly agrees, happy to get away from Trevor and his latest wide-eyed conquest. Flaunting lots of New York attitude, she descends upon her sister’s modest house outside Minneapolis—and soon she and Rich are best buddies, sharing good times and talking over old ones. And that’s when Rich brings out the book Geneva and her sister made years ago—THE GREAT MYSTERIOUS. Using a Cheerios box for the cover and construction paper pockets for the pages, the young girls posed the Big Questions about life, love, and God to one and all. The contributors: their practical dad, freethinking mom, earnest Grandma Hjordis, and, naturally, the sisters themselves. As she reads, Geneva realizes that the answers hold more meaning than ever—and many surprises. An even better surprise: the irresistibly down-to-earth James, single father of one of Rich’s playmates. A mailman by choice, and a gifted pianist as well, James’s wry wit and sturdy Minnesota virtues make him more appealing than pseudo-sophisticated Trevor, who has the effrontery to beg Geneva to come back when the ingénue moves on. Geneva must choose, and choose she does.
Despite the brittle dialogue (often very funny), there’s a you-betcha optimism at the heart of this winning tale. Landvik (The Tall Pine Polka, 1999, etc.) takes a less self-consciously wacky approach and should reach a wider readership this time around.