Every Fourth or Final Friday of a month I will post a book review. Sometimes it will be a book I read years ago, other times I will have just turned the last page of the novel and feel like writing a review about it.
I chose Odd Mom Out for this month’s book review because Jane Porter is one of my favorite authors. I also chose this novel because books for Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) 2018 RITA contest are currently being judged, and I just discovered this book was a 2008 RITA Award Finalist, in the category of Novel with Strong Romantic Elements. RWA describes the RITA as “the most prominent award given throughout the genre of romance novel and some other romantic fiction.” https://www.goodreads.com/award/show/767-rita-award-by-romance-writers-of-america
I read this novel over six years ago, and I rarely read books twice, but I will read this one again sometime, I know it, which means I have placed this book in my “keeper” pile, and not my “donation” pile.
You see, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been looking at my physical bookshelves every now and then, thinking about early Spring Cleaning, starting in my office. Why?
One, I want to continue to try to get rid of all this clutter in my house (although most of that clutter has been accumulated not by me, but by my husband and two kids).
Two, I was thinking how it might be nice for people to have access to free books, and be able to choose from a wide variety of genres, when they are temporarily staying at a host location, such as females at a women’s shelter or women and / or men at homeless shelters, or people dealing with say natural disasters who lodge for some time at Red Cross shelters.
Starting this weekend then, I’m going forward with that early Spring Cleaning plan, beginning with the “billion” of physical books on my shelves. I’m going to try cut my physical collection in half, narrowing down the space it occupies from 20 bookshelves to 10. Yup, I seriously have that many bookshelves. That’s why I am sooo grateful for my 32GB Kindle Fire – who knows how many more physical bookshelves I would have to put in my house if not for my tablet being able to store like 3,000 ebooks!
My January Review
In Jane Porter’s novel “Odd Mom Out,” the author did a terrific job of succinctly illustrating two main points: the struggle working moms have as they try to balance a satisfying career and a happy family life, and the fierce desire many women have to remain uniquely individual instead of turning into a cookie-cutter version of the stereotypical PTA mom.
One of the main reasons I enjoyed “Odd Mom Out” so much was due to the “I can relate” factor. There were so many issues in this book that either I have experienced on one level or another, or I’ve had friends or family who’ve also struggled with the same challenges characters Marta and her daughter Eva faced.
Some of the issues Marta dealt with were: balancing a successful career and a happy home life; struggling to do everything herself as a single mom; questioning how much, if any, of her unique personality and style to give up in order to not hurt or embarrass her 9-year-old daughter; fearing romantic involvement with any man again because she’d been hurt so bad in the past; and watching her dad’s spirits decline as her mother’s mental health deteriorated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the issues Eva coped with: adjusting to regional lifestyle and personality differences after moving from the East Coast to the West Coast; trying to make new friends; struggling to become a part of the “popular” girl crowd; not having as much money as the other kids who lived in her neighborhood; convincing her mom to act and dress more like a “normal” mom; not having a dad around; not looking as pretty as the other girls; and needing her mom to stop giving so much time and attention to her job and instead give it to Eva.
Another main reason I liked this book was because I think the author really has a gift for description. Some examples I highlighted in my book were:
- Her funny descriptions, such as:
“Outside, the late morning sun shines on the … luxury cars parked on the side of the half-circle driveway – Lexus, Lexus, Mercedes, BMW … and then there’s my car. My restored 1957 Ford truck. Okay. So it’s a little like Sesame Street’s ‘one of these things doesn’t go with the others.’”
- Her poetic descriptions, such as:
“Eva can be so serious, and then when she smiles it’s like the full moon at midnight. So big, and wide, glowing with light.”
- Her spot-on descriptions of how a lot of women feel, such as:
“I believe women fall in love and begin relationships with great hope and expectations, but then we somehow go wrong. Women end up giving too much, yielding and bending and compromising until we’re worn out, worn down.”
Although most of my favorite novels contain a sort-of “long-winded” sentence structure, I admit the consistent 10-or-less-words-per-sentence writing style in Odd Mom Out was pretty refreshing. I thought it particularly fitting to convey the way a woman like Marta (and hottie manly-man Luke) would talk. (The author didn’t use this style just in dialogue, but throughout the whole book.)
Usually my busy lifestyle wins out over a little down-time enjoying reading a good book, but I read this 408-page book in a week because I liked it so much! I look forward to reading more of Jane Porter’s books, and I was surprised to learn that her novel “Flirting With Forty” was made into a movie I enjoyed a while back starring Heather Locklear.
I definitely will recommend this author to my family and friends.