CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 24. . . .February 25th, 2010.
And Everything Nice. (Rapid Reads).
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2011.
123 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.
Review by Crystal Sutherland.
*** / 4
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
I said, "Are you sure this is for real? Could it be someone's idea of a prank?"
"No. He knows what I wrote-things that could get me in trouble."
"And can you tell me what those things are yet, or not?"
Her eyes got wet. "No."
"Okay then, "I said. "Why are you referring to the blackmailer as 'he', by the way? What makes you think a guy sent this?"
Stephanie is 24, still lives at home with her mother, and finds herself having to constantly defend her career as a Gap manager when faced with Joanne's criticism (when irritated, Stephanie sometimes calls her mother by her first name). Stephanie is in for a shock when, rather than scolding her like one of her high school students about her lack of ambition, Joanne expresses concern over Stephanie's 'lacking social life'! Stephanie thinks her social life is fine, but, of course, Joanne does not. As all mothers do, Joanne has a cure for everything, and the obvious cure for Stephanie's sad social life is...joining the community rock choir! Seriously.
Joanne is as shocked as Stephanie when Stephanie decides to take her mother's advice and to give the community rock choir a shot. One night won't kill Stephanie, and it might even silence her mother. There might even be some interesting weirdos worth watching, too.
The choir members do not let Stephanie down: old hippies, catty critical women, snake tattoos, businessmen, unemployed philosophers...even a local tv celebrity. Stephanie’s mother wasn't lying when she said it wasn’t just sad, middle-aged women with nothing better to do who join rock choirs!
Stephanie would never have thought a community rock choir could change her life, but when she finds herself sitting next to Anna Rai, a local tv celebrity, things get even weirder than Stephanie’s admitting she likes being a member of the community rock choir, all because of a missing notebook and a blackmailing choir member.
"The Mystery of the Missing Notebook", as some choir members sarcastically refer to it, really is a Nancy Drew-style sleuthing expedition. Stephanie puts her experience pinning shoplifters to the test and proves to herself that she is capable of more than just selling clothes, and, for once, an adult recognizes talents that make her feel admired and professional outside of retail. Stephanie finds herself doing what she never thought she could be capable of doing in an attempt to save a new found friend’s highly respected career and dignity. Readers won't have time to mind the clichás that could easily be too much if it weren’t for such an engaging story. Who would have thought a community rock choir could be so exciting?
If you enjoy Sunday afternoon chick flicks (and I use that description in the nicest way possible), you will love this book. The book begins with a short anecdote about a stolen wallet which sets a good pace. The first chapter, however, as the reader is introduced to the main characters, brings everything to a grinding halt. I was expecting a quick introduction and on with the story. Having finished the book, I can see why the detail was necessary, but, at the time, I felt bogged down and was worried the best part had already passed. I can see some readers putting the book down because of this stop in action.
After roughly 20 pages, I was again engaged, and the pace picked up once again. The little extra effort needed to get through the background after such a quick start was worth it. The plot quickly picks up once the Community Rock Choir members are introduced. and I was surprised to find myself near the end of the book in no time.
While the storyline would be next to unbelievable in real life, Mortisugu's characters are genuine and believable. The reader won’t be able to help cheering on the characters in their quest to find the notebook and solve "The Mystery of the Missing Notebook." Even with the book's having an ending too perfect to be true, readers will share the joy of success with Stephanie and Anna.
Crystal Sutherland holds Masters Degrees in Literacy Education and Library Science and lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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