Superselling Isaacs (Long Time No See, 2001, etc.) makes a valiant effort to reach a younger readership and still please the faithful in her tale of a New Yorker looking for her long-lost mother.
Amy Lincoln has issues—big time. Raised by her shoplifting grandma Lil while her father, a petty crook named Chicky, was doing time, she never knew her mother, Phyllis. Where is Phyllis now? Amy never had the time to figure that out, what with going to Harvard and Columbia School of Journalism. Now working for Happy Bob, a liberal slave-driver at In Depth, a newsmagazine that takes its mission seriously, Amy’s gotten pretty good at finding out stuff people don’t want her to know. Does a charismatic political candidate who seems to be on the side of the angels have an illegitimate son by a woman of color? Looks like it, and that assignment gets her to thinking about her own mother. Surely a little routine investigation will turn up a few clues, starting with the names of her maternal grandparents: prosperous Brooklyn businessman Selwyn Moscowitz and wife Rose. Are they dead or alive or living in Florida? Boca Raton, here I come. Along the way, Amy dithers inexplicably about whether to commit to an absolutely perfect guy who would lay down his life for her (the weakest part of the story) and reminisces about her eccentric upbringing, such as it was, by her crazy-like-a-fox grandmother and the endearingly raffish Chicky (the funniest and best part of the story). Amy’s discovery of her other grandmother, a Waspy society matron, results in a face-to-face meeting that goes amazingly well; her eventual reunion with her reptilian mother does not.
A heroine who really, really cares about politics and social issues and who always remembers to wear a warm coat is certainly a welcome novelty in this Age of Fluff—but this still seems like chick-lit in sensible shoes.