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A wacky novel filled with scarcely believable yet entertaining twists of fate from the author of, most recently, But I Love You Anyway (1996). When she’s fired from a dead-end bank job, Jenny Brown prowls her bland suburb, searching for a fulfillment equivalent to that her preoccupied biologist husband Todd finds in studying the genetic properties of brain tumors. Her aimlessness works to her advantage when she wanders into the Institute of Affirmation, where a bevy of oddball classes are offered, including Homecooking for Your Pet, Living Alone and Loving It, and Finishing What You Started. Jenny sits in on an acting class and quickly gets hooked. The Institute’s motto, —The Answer is Yes,— becomes the new student’s mantra as she makes a series of bold and somewhat improbable moves. Frustrated by Todd’s seeming indifference, she choreographs a dramatic exit with her wise adoptive mother--only to discover that Todd never noticed she was gone. Then she agrees to direct a play for her acting class and finds herself welcomed into a community of quasi-misfits who provide the warmth that her marriage lacks. Given Jenny’s inexperience, the success of the first play seems just a little too lucky. Casting, costuming, and choreographing roles for more than 30 actors does intimidate her, but her new friends--conveniently, seamstresses and handymen--pitch in to help whenever she’s feeling overextended. Preparations, though, come to a grinding halt when the director falls off a ladder and ends up in the hospital, but the accident becomes the set-up for Todd, who rarely takes an interest in his wife, to overhear Michael (director of the Institute) professing love for her. Closing with a series of tidy surprises that test credibility, this is, still, a quirkily gratifying escape for any reader who believes in small miracles.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-100326-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998


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