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Monday, August 13, 2007

Mother Talk: Flirting in Cars

As you've probably guessed from my side-bar, I read a lot. I am partial to non-fiction at the moment and I finished Harry Potter last night (and I'm now prepared to discuss!). But there is a deep well in my heart that can only be filled by chick lit and People magazine.

I like my chick lit to be simple and straightforward with easily identifiable characters and situations. I like the narrative that surrounds the love story--the thirty-something who goes through a major disappointment or a horrific incident and emerges stronger and more sure of herself.

Alisa Kwitney leaves the well-beaten path in many ways in Flirting in Cars. Her main character, Zoe, is a forty-something--a nice change over the usual twenty-and-thirty-somethings that clog the chick lit genre. She is an Iraqi Jew--again, a nice change from the usual Ashkenazi heroines found in a Jennifer Weiner book. She is a single mother by choice, an ex-Manhattanite who leaves the city to enroll her daughter in a country school with a specialized LD program. And she can't drive. Hence why she spends the majority of the book flirting in a car as she learns how to be self-sufficient and exist in a small town.

There are some things that profoundly didn't work in this book, which was namely the premise. I couldn't believe that Zoe would move out of Manhattan (which she is profoundly unhappy doing) when she is surrounded by LD schools inside New York. Why not try the Gateway School on Second Avenue? Or the Churchill School on 29th? Or if you're willing to leave the city, you're probably willing to leave your borough to take your child to Mary McDowell over in Brooklyn. I spent a great deal of time wondering why she was complaining when she had passed over excellent options to put herself in this situation. It wasn't enough to put down the book any more than you drop a friend when they're going on and on about a situation that they're placing themselves in that they don't need to do. But you still spend a lot of time wondering.

How was Moira close to finalizing a divorce in New York in under five months, a state famous for the fact that it has a fault-based system that precludes a couple divorcing for reasons such as irreconcilable differences unless they've been separated for one year? How was she also about to adopt a baby from China in under five months (as a single woman in 2007--from a country that does not allow single parents to adopt)? How was Zoe affording the rent and $75 in daily driving lessons on a freelance journalist salary without a paid job in months?

Flirting in Cars is an enjoyable read if you don't look too closely at the details. Sort of like that friend who doesn't make a lot of sense when you pull apart the conversation, but can be a welcome distraction when you just want to go out for an evening and have a fun dinner. I look forward to seeing her next work because she is definitely an author worthy of a first try as well as a second try.


Beagle said...

I'm reading HP book 6, so you know I'm not very current!

I did just finish "Mrs Kimble" though and really liked it.

I'll put Flirting in Cars on my list.

Michell said...

Well I have to admit that some of those things you mentioned about that book I wouldn't have caught as I'm not familiar with New York. however I have read books before like that. One I was even compelled to e-mail the autor and say "excuse me, but this would NEVER happen" I'm a bit anal. I do love to read almost anything though. I just recently finished "Happiness Sold Seperately" which is on your book tour and it was fantastic. Funny while I was reading it I was thinking of you and the book club and then I noticed it was on your list. I also read another awesome book called "The Sunday List of Dreams" That one isn't IF related but it was very good.

Anonymous said...

As a writer, and a mother of a dyslexic child, I'm always intrigued when people don't believe components of a book that are based in fact. There are different forms of dyslexia and different styles of dealing with it. Close to where Alisa lives, in upstate NY is a well-known school that works with children with language-based disabilities; quite a number of her neighbors have moved out of the city to have their children attend it.