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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

****½ Been There, Done That by Carol Snow. Women's fiction/chick lit.

...or maybe I should just call it "general fiction," but that tells you even less. How about "humorous women's fiction" or "chick lit without shoes and shopping". It has a cover quote on it from the brilliant Lani Diane Rich--that should tell you what kind of book this is.

Journalist Kathy Hopkins looks younger than she is--a lot younger. At 32, she's still getting carded in bars. Her professional life isn't living up to her expectations--she's just been promoted to education editor of Salad magazine, but it's boring. And her love life isn't any better. So when her ex-boyfriend calls up asking to collaborate on a juicy story about a prostitution ring at a local college, she jumps at the chance to both work on an exciting story and rekindle old flames.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. They're getting nowhere fast, when a janitor at the college mistakes Kathy for a student, and sparks the idea of enrolling her undercover.

So Kathy finds herself dealing with an annoying roommate, late nights, and an entirely inappropriate crush on a decade-younger guy.

I admit, I was predisposed to like this book before even opening it. Normally, I ignore cover quotes, but when it's from an author whose taste I know and trust, and who I know doesn't hand out quotes unless she means them, I pay attention.

It didn't let me down. I liked Kathy from the beginning. I too have always looked younger than my age, and like her, it's solely due to lucky genes. But a good quote and a likeable heroine will only take you so far. The writing managed the rest.

I was sucked right into this story. The characters' emotions and reactions are clear and real, and I could believe in them. More than that, the story went in a direction that surprised me, and made me believe that as well.

Been There, Done That is funny and serious, about growing and growing up, about discovering what you want and being brave enough to go for it. It's a suck-you-in read that had me immersed in the story and not wanting to put it down.

Speaking of sucking... I suck terribly at writing about books I really enjoy. Sorry about that. I'm even sorrier (and impressed!) that Been There, Done That is Carol Snow's first book and there aren't any more out there for me to look for... yet. I'll be watching for more.

P.S. If you follow the link in the title (you do know that clicking on the title takes you to the best deal I found for buying the book new, right?), Buy.com has the book listed as Learning Curves. It's even on the cover. I'm assuming that was the working title, because the ISBN is the same. I contemplated using a different link, but it was about a buck cheaper than Amazon and over two bucks cheaper than Barnes & Noble, so I stuck with this link.


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