Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus - Sonya Sones

Normally, I tend to avoid books that have hats and shoes and thong underwear on the cover.  Nothing screams vapid chick-lit like shoes and thongs.  So we tip our hat yet again to the power of the blogger recommendation, because if it weren't for the TOTALLY GLOWING reviews of Bermudaonion and At Home With Books, this book would not have graced my threshold.  That probably makes me sound snobbish.  This whole experience has made me rethink my attitude towards shoes and thongs.

Synopsis:  Holly is a writer of poetry.  She is turning 50 soon.  Her only child, Samantha, is preparing to leave for college in the near future.  Her mother, who lives on the other side of the US, is starting to fail.  She can't stand to look at herself in the dressing room mirrors.  She thinks her husband might be cheating on her with another mom, who happens to be buff.  She has writer's block and her publicist is nagging her.  The checkout boy at the supermarket just gave her a senior discount. 

In refreshing and creative free verse, we are privy to Holly's trials and tribulations as a woman in transition.  A woman of the sandwich generation.  A woman with hot flashes.  It is a diary with a cadence and flow, with a BFF's candor and humor that reassures us that we are not alone.

My thoughts:  Sometimes, you find a book that speaks to you.  Whether it is a book about grieving when you have lost someone special, a deliciously creepy tale on a rainy night, a book about the building of a medieval English cathedral when you are traveling in England, or a love story when you meet The One. 

Or when you read this book when you are feeling fat and unappreciated by your children.  It is synchronicity. 

And it is laugh-out-loud FUNNY.  Sonya has a way with words, verbalizing things that were just on the tip of your tongue.  And don't let the "free verse" thing freak you out.  What I am finding is that even though I am poetry-illiterate, I really love this style of writing.  I have to share a couple of passages with you, and you will see what I mean:
Shift Happens
On what day,

at what hour, 
at which tell-me-it-ain't-so moment

did you finally come

to the blow-to-the-solar-plexus realization
that your daughter had switched over

from being so proud of you
that she actually wanted to bring you in
for show-and-tell,

to being so humiliated
by everything you say or do
or even think about doing

that she is
no longer willing
to be seen in public with you?

of course,
you offer to take her shopping.)

All of us
were young once.

And for each of us
there was a certain afternoon

An afternoon when we were
as beautiful as we'd ever been,

as beautiful
as we'd ever get -

and not one of us
knew that it was happening.

All of us
are older now.

And for each of us
there will be a certain afternoon.

An afternoon
when we will pass by a mirror

and see that the last bit of youthful beauty
has fluttered from our faces.

And on that afternoon,

our hearts and our minds

will finally be old enough
and wise enough -

not to give
a flying f**k. 

OK, sorry that was long.  But how can you not love this woman?  Please get this, please read this, and be charmed off your feet by it.

5 out of 5 stars           


Mary (Bookfan) said...

I loved this book - one of my 2011 favorites. I hope she writes more!

Jenny said...

This sounds fun!

bermudaonion said...

I wouldn't have read this one if Julie (BookingMama) hadn't insisted. I was turned off by title and the free verse thing. I'm so glad Julie pushed me because I adored this book and have found an appreciation for novels written in verse because of it. By the way, I think Sonya Sones was peeking into my life when she wrote the book!!

JoAnn said...

Thanks so much for convincing me to read this book. I would NEVER have picked it up on my own, but I ended up loving it! Gave you full credit in my review, too ;-)

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I don't think I would like the free verse thing - I think it would get on my nerves!

Darlene said...

I've got this book in my piles somewhere because of the recommendations. I must pull it out soon!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

The thong would definitely turn me off as well...since I'm constantly posting about how age doesn't bother me...and it seems to be bothering me quite a bit lately, I might just have to pick this one up ;)

Trisha said...

This is also not my type of book, but you almost have me convinced to give it a try. :)

Zibilee said...

Oh, this sounds like something I need to read, and I can imagine that I would get a lot out of it. I loved the excerpts you posted, and find that they have both poignancy and humor in just the right measure. What a great post and book to feature here today!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

The title and the free verse thing kind of both scare me. This does sound like fun though and I think I can relate if the rest of the book is like the poem you posted.

Jenners said...

I think I would have passed on this too based on the title and the cover. It does seem like a gem that is packaged in the wrong box!

Kathleen said...

This one is so right up my alley right now! I've got to keep my eyes open for this one!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I remember Kathy and Alyce really liking this one as well. Like you, I normally would run screaming from this book solely because of the hideous cover, but with their recommendations and now yours, I think I might just add this to my Goodreads' TBR list :)

Anonymous said...

Just the few sentences you revealed had me in sobs...this hits very close to home for me. I think I must search it out. Thank you so much...Pat

Alyce said...

I loved this one (as you know). :) I'm so glad you loved it too! I read it first as a library copy and then got my own so that I can read it whenever I want to. It's one of those rare books that I actually want to read again (and I normally hate poetry).

Julie P. said...

Loved this book. Who would have thought that a book in verse could make me laugh and cry!

Melissa said...

Honestly, the cover of the book had me ready to skim your review, and I'm glad I didn't. I love free verse books!