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Monday, December 18, 2006

Liner Notes

Liner Notes by Emily Franklin

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

October 21, 2005

Have you ever known someone whose life seems so wonderful that you can't help wishing something really bad would happen to them? That's what "Liner Notes" is. In fact, I've invented a whole new term to describe the reading of this book: reverse catharsis. Everyone in this book is so happy and well-adjusted that it makes you think your own life is pretty rotten by comparison.

The story is that Laney's mother suffered from cancer through Laney's childhood. Now as Laney is going back to Boston to start a new job, her mom invites herself along on Laney's cross-country drive from San Francisco to Boston so they can bond. I'd like to say at this point they have a bunch of adventures or do anything mildly interesting, but pretty much they reminisce over a box of mix tapes. Their journey across America is so bland and vague it could have been written by someone who'd only read about the USA from AAA guidebooks.

Exhibit A is when Laney and Mom detour to Las Vegas. Now since they're in Sin City you think all sorts of wild things could happen to them. All they wind up doing is playing the slots for a couple hours, eating at a buffet, and sipping margaritas on a balcony, where of course there's another mix tape flashback.

The overall problem with this book is what I mentioned in the beginning. Everyone is happy and well-adjusted. Laney's mom had cancer, but has now made a full recovery. Laney's brother is in medical school and on his way to being a doctor. Laney's father runs a very successful pottery business. Laney has good relations with all of them. The only problem is Laney and her mom weren't extremely close and Laney hasn't found the love of her life yet, a problem we know will be solved from Page 1.

There's hardly anything even remotely close to drama or conflict in this book. The one possibility is that Laney gets pregnant with "Crappy Jeremy" and has an abortion. You'd think that would make for something interesting, but this issue is quickly buried and forgotten. Otherwise, Laney and her mom get along so well that a cross-country trip to "bond" seems pointless. There are no obstacles thrown in their way so the outcome is never in doubt.

Then of course the last 30 pages go into full summary mode with the tacked-on overly happy ending. Anyone with half a brain could have seen that coming. Everything works out so wonderfully for everyone that you expect them to form a chorus line and break out into song. It made me want to scream.

Overall this book is so light, so shallow, and so uneventful that it gets tiresome waiting for SOMETHING to happen, only to learn nothing does. Even Lifetime movies of the week have some kind of drama. But if you want a cozy little book to give you a warm fuzzy and reassure you about how good and wonderful the world is, this is your book. This is excellent beach/airplane reading for those who don't want want to be excited at all. People on high-blood pressure medicine maybe.

It's not to say that I absolutely hated this book. I thought it was very NICE. Far too nice. I liked all the characters, but as I described in the beginning, I started to jealously wish something very bad would befall them.

To read a far more interesting story of a young woman coping with issues, I suggest "The Dive From Clausen's Pier" by Ann Packer.

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