Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wise Men Say - Only Fools Rush In

OMG! Do you see that title?! Okay, so it probably isn't the catchiest of all titles ever, but it's better than anything I've come up with lately. Give me props, my lovelies, give me props ;)! Believe it or not, I started this review one week and one day ago. I've been in PAIN people, and anything I would have written would have been ludicrous, because they gave me some VERY powerful pain medicine to help me cope (I'm a baby, I hate to hurt) so other than reading I haven't done much else. Then, when I finally recovered enough to post winners, we had a school carnival that was so busy I was knocked on my butt for a few more days. But, stitches came out this morning and I'm feeling much bettah, almost like my old self. Almost. Now, you know I love doing reviews, right? All reviews. But this review is extra cool for me. The novel I'm getting ready to review is a debut from an extremely talented author and when I contacted her to ask if I could ask a few questions, she said sure! So, not only are you going to get to see what I thought of the book, you are going to get a look at how the author feels. Cool, huh? Oh, and tiny warning here, this review will probably be a FGSF. You know how I love to have a good ole Squee Fest so without further ado....


Fools Rush In by Kristan Higgins
(BCC)

Millie Barnes is this close to finally achieving her perfect life...

Rewarding job as a local doctor on Cape Cod? Check. Cute cottage of her very own? Check. Adorable puppy suitable for walks past attractive locals? Check! All she needs is for golden boy and former crush Joe Carpenter to notice her, and Millie will be set.

But perfection isn't as easy as it looks-especially when Sam Nickerson, a local policeman, is so distracting. Sure, he needs a friend after being dumped by Millie's fortune-hunting sister, but does she really need to enjoy his company that much? He is definitely not part of her master plan. But maybe it's time for Millie to start a new list...

The cover of this book is what caught my eye, it looked fun and flirty and I loved the dog laying between the man and woman's legs. I picked it up, and read the BCC, which still amazes me, I mean, I never used to read the things, and now that I have made such a thing about them on my reviews, I'm addicted to the BCC's. I am my own victim. That hasn't turned into such a bad thing though, because lately, they haven't been bad at all. And when I analyze the BCC on the blog, I'm always wondering what the author thinks of it. Well, for once, I have my answer. When I asked Kristan what she thought about the BCC, she said, "I loved what my editor, Abby Zidle, wrote for the back cover. Millie is an organized list-making type, so this summed up her attitude toward life perfectly. She thinks all she needs to do is follow directions and she'll land Joe, but there's Sam, constantly distracting her, though she's not quite sure why."

Millie Barnes is about to turn the Big 3-0, she has just finished her residency, so she's ready to start her career as an official Doctor, she has a cute little cottage on Cape Cod that her grandmother left her, great friends, and a rock solid plan to finally get the attention of the man she has crushed on for 16 years.

Joe Carpenter The Carpenter, will be Millie's, she knows it. She has studied, okay, if you want to get technical, she has stalked, this man for most of her life, she knows him. She knows he is kind, loves dogs, does good deeds for the elderly, and he likes women. She knows where he lives, she knows his phone number, his work schedule, she even knows where he likes to eat and when. All she has to do is make a few physical changes, and when he sees her, he will finally see the other half of his soul.

Sam Nickerson is Millie's newly made ex-brother law. Although her sister left Sam a year ago, the divorce has finally been made final and Sam is dealing with his feelings about this and raising his 16 year old son Danny. Sam is good looking, a local cop, ex-Notre Dame football star (just mentioning this made my husband take interest in the book), and all around good guy. Millie loves Sam, he has always been kind to her, and was probably one of the only people she never felt like the ugly duckling around. Millie has always wondered how her self-centered older sister landed such a great guy, and seeing him hurting makes Millie hurt. So she has decided it's up to her to get Sam through this tough time in his life.

So, while Millie puts her plan into action to get Joe, she also starts a plan to help out Sam. Why is it then, that when she finally gets Joe, it isn't what she thought it would be and she can't quite keep her thoughts away from Sam? Well, I think Kristan does a lovely job at answering just that question, "Like most of us, Millie has qualities about herself that she loves and tries to focus on, but when she's feeling low, her old insecurities come back and kick her right in the old ego. With a beautiful, ultra-confident older sister, Millie is constantly measuring herself against Trish. While Millie is confident and happy on a professional and personal level, it's the romantic part of her life where she's a bit lost. It's no fluke that when Joe finally does notice Millie, it's when she's at her best self, completely focused on the task at hand, not trying to be anything more than the kind, competent person she is. And it's no fluke that Sam has always seen her this way."

Millie's story is one I won't soon forget. I absolutely loved Millie and her warped sense of self and worth at the beginning of the book. Millie, smart, kind, loving, and selfless is the epitome of every insecurity a woman could have. I think I've mentioned before that when I sit to read a book I will review (every book I read) I make sure to have a pad and paper at my side. I like to write down particular quotes and passages that I enjoy (or don't) and when I cracked Fools I had that same pen and paper handy. I got as far as page 13 before I made a notation and I'm going to piece together some of it for you here (I'm always wary of quoting books. I mean, how much is too much?) - "I didn't have any illusions about myself. I was a smart, nice person. Caring. A fine friend...But in terms of physicality, I was short, chubby, with long, lank hair that I pulled into a ponytail more often than not...Overall, rather plain and ordinary. Being cursed with an extremely beautiful older sister had certainly not helped my self-image over the years....though I had definitely mastered the pasty skin/dark circles/unshaven legs look...
While I didn't imagine that I could become a swan, I was determined to become at least, oh, I don't know, a Canada goose? They're nice, right? Nothing wrong with a Canada goose."
Now, there are a couple of reasons I loved this passage. The lesser of those being that it is fularious (I'm censoring here, we have younger readers and I don't want to offend Gret) and the greater being that truer words have never been spoken. In today's society we see our most beautiful assets as nothing more than trivial if we don't have the external beauty to go with it. Why is it, that it takes a book sometimes to show you that when we are at our inner bests, is when we achieve true beauty? This is one of things that Fools made me realize. Like Millie, I may never be a swan, but I make a perty darn good Canada goose.

Unfortunately, that was the first and last notation on my trusty paper I made. I became so engrossed in the words on the page, I forgot that I had a responsibility to my readers. I know, bad reviewer, but I am a reader at heart.

Now the first words of the book are, "I'm a stalker. The good kind." And then Millie goes on to relive some of her stalker moments on her quest to land Joe Carpenter. Now, I'm not ashamed to admit this (okay, maybe a little ashamed) but I too, have been a good kind of stalker. Really, who hasn't. I never really carried it to the lengths that Millie does/did, but I could relate nonetheless. But I had to know, was the author a closet stalker? The ideas were just too far fetched to be etched in make-believe. "Regarding the stalking, let's face it, a lot of us have stalked our quarry! That was another universal element I wanted to include, having arranged more coincidences that I care to admit to. Millie is often a fool for love, and it was an absolute blast to write about the lengths we women will sometimes go to in order to get our men." Now, I know she's only admitting to "arranged coincidences", but you read the book and tell me, could some one really have made all that up?

So what happens when Millie finally catches the eye of Joe? Well, our perception of people we really do not know (and some we think we do) are oft wrong, and life never easily hands us these lessons. "When I wrote FOOLS RUSH IN, I wanted to capture an experience that a lot of women (including myself) have had. We become fixated on an early impression of someone and shape everything we see to match what we've set in our minds. As reality butts in again and again, Millie has to constantly shift her expectations and rewrite everything she's thought about Joe." But to be honest, I felt that Millie really had to rewrite everything she thought about her life and the people in it, not just Joe. I cried with Millie in this book. I laughed with Millie in this book. And yes, there were even a few times I wanted to die of embarrassment for Millie. I was reminded of the first time I ever watched Anne of Green Gables a few times while reading Fools. I remember when Anne smashed her slate over Gilbert's head, and I felt my cheeks blush and felt the embarrassment for Anne. It amazed me that I could feel for a character so much and it has been a rare thing since that time for me to sympathize with a fictional character. But it was as if Millie and I were the same person and what she felt I felt. It was wonderful.

When I turned the last page of Fools I cheered for Millie, but I wept for myself. I wanted MORE! And as a writer who has yet to complete a novel, I wondered what it must be like to create some one as special as Millie and the people and events in her life. If I had such a hard time saying good-bye as a reader, what did Higgins feel as the author? Well - "Every time I type the words "The End," I find that tears are running down my cheeks. It's hard to become so engrossed in your characters' lives, follow them through their journey, and then just leave them there. I find myself imagining what comes next for them, writing their life stories well past where the book stops...until I become engrossed in another story, another character." Um, Kristan? Could I have those continuance stories please?

I just cannot express to you how much I enjoyed this book. Never has a debut novel grabbed me like this, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book by Higgins. So, even though she has and excerpt up , I wanted to hear how she describes her next book, "CATCH OF THE DAY is also a romantic comedy, and also focuses on a universal experience--falling in love with the unattainable man. In Maggie's case, the man is Father Tim, a Catholic priest, and if there's a more embarrassing crush to have, I don't know what it is, and it makes for some really, really fun scenes. And before you ask, yes, I've had a crush on a priest, and he was also my cousin, so it was doubly forbidden, embarrassing and mortifying.

In CATCH OF THE DAY, we see Maggie struggling to find the kind of relationship her identical twin has. This juxtaposition between sisters is a constant reminder to Maggie of what she's missing. But like Millie, this heroine is happy, confident and fulfilled in just about every area except romance. When she meets Malone, Maggie has to learn to scrape the surface and stop comparing him with Father Tim. "
You want to read it now too, huh?

Okay, I've gushed enough for one review, and think - it only took me a week to finish! But seriously, if you don't have this book, get it! And please, let me know when you finish. I just don't see how you can be disappointed. I also want to thank Kristan Higgins for taking the time to answer some of my questions. This is one author to look for. This debut was fabulous and I expect her wit is just going to get stronger as she enjoys a very long career!

Take Care

4 comments:

Lucy S. said...

Just wondering - have you ever read the book, "Got Your Number" by Stephanie Bond ?
It might be something you would like, too.

Anonymous said...

This sounds awesome and I can't wait to read the book!! Thanks for such a fantastic review!

Cherry Tea said...

Lucy, I haven't read that, but I'll be heading over to B&N.com to check it out. Thanks!

dee said...

Ok, breaking the surface from my NaNo fog...

I read FRI as well, because Char loves me and made sure I got a copy. I was tempted to do a dueling review, as we sometimes do when we read the same books. However, I just couldn't say anything more than Char already said! This book was awesome.

To tell you how awesome I thought it was... I was at Wally World the other day to grab "Cars" for my kids. I figured "I should get me a book to read while they're watching the movie", so I headed to the book aisle. Another woman was there, looking as well. We started talking about books (of course!), and she said she couldn't figure out what to buy. So I put Kristan's book right in her hand and told her to read it, because I LUVLUVLUV the book. You'll be happy to know that she did indeed buy it, and I'm sure she's also a fan now.