Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman

July 28, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): April Epner teaches high school Latin, wears flannel jumpers, and is used to having her evenings free. Bernice Graverman brandishes designer labels, favors toad-sized earrings, and hosts her own tacky TV talk show: Bernice G!

But behind the glitz and glam, Bernice has followed the life of the daughter she gave up for adoption thirty-six years ago. Now that she’s got her act together, she’s aiming to be a mom like she always knew she could. And she’s hurtling straight for April’s quiet little life….

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • I liked that April was a high school Latin teacher. Now there’s a job that doesn’t make it into literature that often (Goodbye, Mr. Chips notwithstanding)! I wish there had been a few more scenes in her classes, though.
  • The Dwight storyline was cute and believable, albeit predictable. I have personally known many men “geeky”, awkward looking men like Dwight who are actually quite funny and charming if given a chance. It was refreshing to read about an average woman falling in love with an average man for once, instead of the guy always being some amazing stud.
  • Bernice, the woman who never met an air brush make up kit she didn’t like, was an interesting character. Some of her lies were just so outlandish that I had to laugh at them, and it was a nice touch to make her a daytime talk show host with a very limited audience. I can totally imagine the kind of people that watched her show!

Disliked:

  • I thought the writer used an odd mix of dialogue and exposition. It’s hard to explain here, but she would start an anecdote in exposition, then finish it off with dialogue, and vice-versa. I know a lot of authors do that, but it happened so often in this one that it was annoying. (And the stories weren’t even long enough to justify this style.)
  • April was far too accepting of Bernice right off the bat. She seemed to take everything in stride and didn’t have a strong reaction one way or the other. Plus, it was odd that she kept meeting with Bernice and fielding her phone calls when she wasn’t overly thrilled about being “found” in the first place.
  • I didn’t like that the birth father was brought into the mix near the end — first because Jack was such a flat, boring character, and second because it just made the story way too pat.
  • April had no major struggles in the book. She and Dwight proceeded without a hitch and her job was going well, so the only other potential for conflict was with Bernice. But as I said a minute ago, April acted like she could take or leave Bernice and not have it affect her life. This lack of an obstacle not only made the story rather dull, but also prevented me from really identifying with April or having occasion to root for her.

Rating:

I had never read anything by Elinor Lipman prior to Then She Found Me, and based on what I discovered in this novel, I don’t think I’ll be trying anything else. This wasn’t a terrible book, but it wasn’t particularly good either. It was average chick-lit fare that is consistently churned out by any number of other writers. I give this novel 3 stars out of 5.

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