Friday, October 2, 2009

Stretch Marks

When a daughter becomes a mother, can she learn to accept her own?

In her latest novel, Stretch Marks, author Kimberly Stuart takes an unflinching look at sex, pregnancy, and divorce
The official word:
With her trademark irreverent humor and a surprising and satisfying take on romance, popular author Kimberly Stuart beckons readers to a wild ride of weird cravings, swollen feet, and a growing belly in her new book, Stretch Marks (David C Cook, September 2009). In this comic yet poignant novel about mothers and daughters, Stuart bravely tackles the issues of divorce, sex outside of marriage, and single parenthood as granola-eating, sensible shoe–wearing Mia is forced to face her estranged relationship with her mother.

Mia Rathbun is an earth-conscious, yoga-practicing twenty-something living in Chicago. She’s overworked and underpaid as a social worker, she belongs to PETA, and she recycles the tops of pizza boxes. Her boyfriend, Lars, is a free-spirited freelance writer (read: mooch) who disdains the conventions of marriage but is happy to build a life with Mia. That is until Mia becomes pregnant.

Left on her own, Mia just begins to accustom herself to the looming prospect of single parenthood when her mother, Babs, shows up to “help.” Babs is a cruise ship hostess who cannot abide her daughter’s affection for wheatgrass, tofu, and deep breathing. The two have an estranged relationship but are forced to connect as Mia’s belly grows and Babs is faced with the promise of a grandchild.

Mia also has a whole neighborhood of quirky characters who want to help, including her BFF Frankie, a magenta-haired librarian; Silas, the courtly gentleman of indeterminate age who lives downstairs; and Adam, proprietor of the corner grocery store where Mia shops. But it’s Adam—endearing, kind, possessed of a perfect smile and impeccable Persian manners—who ultimately charms Babs and rescues Mia from more than one mother-induced meltdown. Could it be that Mia and Babs might actually be able to get along?

In an authentic but tender novel about family, grace, and the importance of a good grocer, Stretch Marks doesn’t shy away from hard issues and unlikely hope. “Not for the weak of status-quo-heart, Stretch Marks is a relevant story of a daughter who becomes a mother and, in the process, learns to accept her own,” says Stuart. “I wrote this book because I think the characters will resonate with the not-so-average Christian reader and the more-likely-average non-Christian reader who grapples with the craziness of being a girl and then a mother in an unexpected way.”

Tricia's Take:
I liked this book.  It was different and not so formulaic as some of the books in this genre can be.  I heartily applaud the author's choice to go in a different direction.  The book did a good job of avoiding some of the stilted dialogue and manufactured situations that can happen in a "chick-lit" book with a character traveling on a path toward a relationship with Christ.  (Or maybe some people talk that way and I just don't happen to know any such people).  Although it did avoid some of the trappings, there were a few events that seemed very forced and weren't necessary for the plot, so I am not sure why the author went there.  But it was still an entertaining - and refreshing - book.  I would read something by this author again.

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