An easy read, and promising debut novel, about a woman whose “free spirit” of a mother has left her ill-prepared for the practicalities of life as a single parent.
Maz Lombard is a mid-30s mom whose life revolves around her two preteen daughters, the local day-care center, and her job as a baker in a health-food store. Then she gets caught in the crossfire when her wacky mother (Madame Lucille, a self-dubbed “Fortune Teller to the Stars,” who burned through quite a few husbands and carnivals during Maz’s childhood) teams up with Maz’s disloyal husband, Lenny (gone for a year to New Mexico, and expected not to return). Lucille and Lenny not only endlessly complicate Maz’s life but also put a wedge between her and her older daughter, ten-year-old Hope. Meanwhile, Maz’s best friend Hannah counsels her as she tries to get back into the dating swim. (On her one attempt, she muses, “theoretically, I would love to sleep with him, but I can’t remember how to get started.”) Rounding out the ensemble cast are Joliet, a day-care teacher with a bad habit of seducing husbands, including Maz’s, and a couple of interested beaus—a hunky graduate student and a low-key naturopathic physician. Maz’s job seems increasingly tedious as she confronts challenges to all the relationships in her life and figures out what she wants for herself. When her mother and husband spirit Hope away to New Mexico, Maz learns to trust her gut and fight for what she loves. Shelton, author of three parenting books, has a good touch with mother/daughter conflicts and a strong sense of the ambiguities of friendships. Her Maz is a sympathetic character not in spite of but because of her self-acknowledged flaws.
Appealing and often very funny—both important pluses in a crowded field of domestic “drama dies.”