Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: Blue Straggler

by: Kathy Lynn Harris

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Kathy Lynn Harris' clever debut novel is a laugh-out-loud, yet poignant, story about good friends, bad choices, quirky families and new beginnings & a Texas version of Bridget Jones's Diary or Anna Maxted's Getting Over It with the wit and humor of a Melissa Banks story.

Just what is a blue straggler? A blue straggler is a star that appears to be disconnected from those stars surrounding it in its globular cluster and has an anomalous blue color and high luminosity relative to those stars that surround it.

But this is not a story about astronomy.

Bailey Miller is "disconnected" from the cluster of her rural south Texas family. She has never quite fit in and now in her early 30s, she finds herself struggling with inner turmoil and a series of bad choices in her life.

She blames many of her personal demons, and there are many, on a self-proclaimed condition called "RODA" -- short for Recurring, Obstinate Dread and Anguish. She's drinking too much (even for a member of her family), has a penchant to eat spoonful after spoonful of Cool Whip, works in a job that bores her beyond description and can't keep a relationship longer than it takes for milk to expire in her fridge.

Even with the help of her two outspoken friends, Idamarie -- owner of a local cafe and fourth-generation Texas woman with the big hair to prove it -- and her quirky college pal Rudy, she's having a hard time.

As a series of sometimes humorous, often semi-tragic, events send her reeling, Bailey packs up her Honda and heads out of Texas, in search of herself and answers to secrets from her great-grandmother's past.

Chock full of memorable characters, this novel takes readers on a journey from San Antonio to a small mountain town in Colorado and back, as Bailey uncovers not only the secrets of her great-grandmother's life, but also her own, and finding love along the way.

In the end, you'll ask yourself, as Bailey does: Are bad choices passed down through generations like tarnished wedding silver, frayed quilts and not-so-tasteful costume jewelry? Can we really define family and home for ourselves, or does the past always determine who we are today?

This story was a much quicker read than I expected. I wasn't expecting much, and thought it was another blah chick lit-romance. I started meeting the characters and I'm thinking, "yeah he likes her and after some turmoil they'll get together." It just didn't grab me much.

But it was well written and the characters were fun. So I kept reading. I totally understood Bailey's family, they are like that in Michigan too. Not that they were horrible, but feelings were considered something to ignore and they were constantly telling Bailey to stop overreacting. Her brother was the golden boy, and she felt invisible.

So when she finds out about her great-grandmother who ran to Colorado, she followed the trail to see what she could find out about this woman whom her mother refused to speak of. When she gets there and sees the mountains and feels the blessed cool, she falls in love.

What if she really doesn't belong in Texas?

It is full of heartbreak, frustration, romance and a fair number of surprises. Good job, Kathy!

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