19 October 2009

Review: THE GOOD LUCK GIRL by Kerry Reichs ****

"Maeve Connolly is tired of being labelled as irresponsible. Yes, she may spend unhealthy amounts of time on Facebook and watch marathon sessions of America's Next Top Model, but Maeve isn't a typical post-college slacker. Determined to change her life and make her own luck, Maeve impulsively decides on a grand adventure - driving cross country to LA. But en route, Maeve's car breaks down and she is stranded in Unknown, Arizona. It is here, alone and in the middle of nowhere, that Maeve finally faces up to the reality of her past. What Maeve has denied acknowledging, even to herself, is that she isn't running from bad luck, but from something much more complicated - something that made her feel as though the world would never turn again, and her heart would always remain closed. What begins as a hilarious and quirky coming-of-age tale soon deepens into a complex portrayal of survivorship and one woman's journey to a new beginning. Funny, irreverent, and moving in equal measure, The Good Luck Girl will leave you smiling through tears."

The novel is narrated by Maeve, who may seem quite irresponsible since it took her eight years to get through college and she's lost another job, but she's far from that. At first she may also seem rather silly, having agreed to drive across the country in her old car and accompanied only with her bird to meet a friend who she hasn't seen in years and live with her in LA. The readers may find themselves thinking, "What is this girl thinking?", but as the story goes on and more things are revealed, Maeve's journey becomes more understandable and you start rooting for her. She drives past all the names with crazy names until one day her car breaks down in the middle of the night in the middle of a town called Unknown. She learns it'll take a while for her car to be fixed so she finds a place to leave and even gets a job at the local bookstore. She finds herself in a wonderful relationship, but she's not sure if that's really where her heart is. Her life in Unknown is great, but she's also forced to come to terms with her past, from which she has been running away from and Maeve finally opens up about it. She really hasn't had it easy. But when her feelings spin out of control and her car is fixed, she decides to leave Unknown and meet her friend in LA. As it turns out, life in LA isn't as cracked up to be as it was portrayed by her delusional friend ...

I don't know why I felt the need to write a vague summary of the novel, but I did, heh. I can't say the plot's exactly riveting, but I did find it rather enjoyable. I suppose that was mostly due to the absolutely wonderful writing and the delightful characters, who really brought the story to life and you couldn't possibly wish for a set of more lovely yet quirky characters, from the narrator herself with her bird and her socks and braids, to her talking bird Oliver, her delusional LA friend who's convinced she'll pull Perez (McGay) Hilton, hula-hooping Tuesday, adorable writer Noah, the elderly residents of Ruby's "hotel" and all other inhabitans of Unknown. They all form a very witty and colourful bunch and were a delight to read about. On the other hand, the story also features some sad moments from Maeve's college years when she had to go through a lot and it changed her completely, but as heavy as those subjects may be, they are handled wonderfully. Really, it's all so beautifully written that all I can say is, "Hats off, Ms Reichs". The novel didn't exactly make me laugh or cry, but it did provoke sadness as well as many smiles and it definitely didn't leave me indifferent.

Lastly, I believe I also deserve The Stupidest Comment Ever award for my remark about the cover in my IMM post from a while ago, where I said I was slightly bothered by the hairy arms of the girl in the picture. I'm really not a fan of body hair myself and I couldn't understand why they couldn't just airbrush it out, buuuuuut I take my words back now. The arm hair plays a very important role in Maeve's story and I should be glad that it's on the cover instead of being all snarky about it. I never knew arm hair could be so important to someone and trust me, I felt like such an idiot when I was reading about Maeve's thoughts/memories on the subject, hehe.

In conclusion, let me just say that this is a wonderful novel about life's unexpected hardships, loss, starting over, love, family and friendship among other things and I strongly recommend it - it's bound to be one of the most wonderfully quirky books you'll ever read.

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5


Leah said...

I can't wait for the paperback release so I can read this. Fab review. Also very intrigued about the arm hair, I must say.

Faye said...

LOVE the cover! very pretty :D i'll check it out!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I love the cover.

PS I have an award for you on my blog:

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