I jumped on the bandwagon and had the pleasure of reading The Best Place to Be by Lesley Dormen for TLC Book Tours.
The Best Place to Be is about Grace, who at the beginning of the book, is a 50-year-old married woman, no kids. You learn about her the way you might about your friend: not in chronological stories told in a neutral voice, but rather, with stories that skip around in a person’s life and let you in to who they really are.
Ms. Dormen has no hesitation in letting her thoughts flow, often creating run-on sentences punctuated with numerous commas. Check out the opening paragraph, which is one long sentence:
It was that summer, the summer we were fifty and the little Cuban boy went home to no mother, not the first West Nile virus summer but the second, the Hillary and Survivor summer, you know that summer, the summer the women were manhandled in the park and the kids lined up for Harry Potter, the summer we were fifty, all of us, fifty and holding, the ones a little older and the ones a little younger, fifty and holding, like thirty and holding only fifty, and it was summer and the ones who were rich were and the ones who weren’t weren’t but we were all fifty, every one of us, and holding.
BREATHE, LESLEY! Holy smokes!
I was sad when I never became very attached to Grace. Really, isn’t that what reading’s about? To forge new friendships with the characters? And I never really liked or disliked Grace; I felt I was more of an observer than a participant. Like when Grace goes and buys thousands of dollars of clothes and then calls her mom up for money. Sorry, Grace, I just don’t get that. I don’t do that, my friends don’t do that…why would you do that??
Grace seems to have an issue with men, though whether this comes from the lack of her father’s involvement or her own issues is up for debate. Her father was a dead beat dad, and while she had a good stepfather, she still yearns for the approval of her birth dad. And if that’s not enough, her mother is self-centered and lacking in parental qualities. Here’s an excerpt from when Grace is 18 and in college and she receives a letter from her mom:
Just a quickie before I dash out to the dentist….Things at home are relatively quiet. Alex (Grace’s brother) and I had a run-in Sunday night after you and I spoke. He is definitely troubled and wants discipline so badly. He keeps telling me I have no control over him and I really feel this upsets him. He asks, “What are you going to do about it?” I don’t have the answer. I can only hope for wisdom and patience.
In addition to Grace’s mom being off her parental rocker, Grace and her mom have a strange relationship. Take, for example, this exchange:
I called my mother and asked her if she wanted lunch or dinner on her birthday.
She said, “If we have dinner, what will I do with the whole day?”
I wanted to know why my mother felt entitled to a whole day but I changed the subject. I told my mother I had a new haircut I liked.
One of the themes running through the book is her need to look at the past, leaving her unhappy with what she has in the present. Many people never end up happy with what they have in the present, and whether Grace is able to find that place, a “best place to be,” well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. 😀
Check out these other reviews for The Best Place to Be! I’ve even linked to the actual review, ’cause, well, I’m anal like that.
Wednesday, October 1st: Wormbook
(reprinted with permission at Books on the Brain)
Friday, October 3rd: Maw Books
Monday, October 6th: Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, October 8th: Devourer of Books
Friday, October 10th: Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker
Monday, October 13th: Books I Done Read
Wednesday, October 15th: From the Mixed-Up Files
Friday, October 17th: Bloody Hell! It’s a Book Barrage!
Monday, October 20th: A Girl Walks Into a Book Store… (alas, no post. 🙁 )
Wednesday, October 22nd: The Book Lady
Monday, October 27th: Bookgirl’s Nightstand