Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Audiobook Review: Wallflower In Bloom by Claire Cook

Deirdre has spent her whole life feeling like the quintessential overlooked middle child.  She has also spent her entire adult life, along with the rest of her family, working to build her brother Tag's motivational speaking/rock start empire.  She runs all the organizational aspects of his business, including his social media.  This is significant when, after a fight with her brother and the discovery that her ex-boyfriend is marrying his pregnant girlfriend, Deirdre gets drunk and uses Tag's status on Twitter and Facebook to earn herself a spot on Dancing With The Stars.  For once, Deirdre has the opportunity to step out on her own and leave behind her wallflower status.

Writing
Ok folks, here's the thing: we aren't talking award-winning literary fiction here, but we are talking chick lit best-seller.  And for chick lit, I think it definitely deserves a spot on the best-sellers list.  I am a huge fan of the author's other works and enjoyed this one every bit as much as her others.  It's witty and cute and the characters are mostly original and fresh.  I didn't feel like anyone was a stock character, which is pretty common in chick lit.  I also thought that Cook chose an interesting angle for her book and liked that Deirdre had some imperfections.  She had some seriously bitter moments, which you don't see often in chick lit. 

Most significantly for me, she was a normal size.  I LOVED that.  The publisher's synopsis makes it sound as if she undergoes the stereotypical chick lit transformation from dumpy fat girl to fabulous super model, but I don't think that's what happens in the book at all.  Cook writes about Deirdre's insecurities and her hopes that dancing will help her lose weight, but we don't see a miracle weight loss happen, nor is that the focus of the book.  It made Deirdre seem like a very real character to me.

Again, we aren't talking deep literature here.  It follows the typical chick lit plot line, with it's own interesting twists.  I think it surpasses most chick lit though in that there is a real connection with the characters. 

Entertainment Value
As far as entertainment value goes, I was hooked.  Cook is good at what she writes and creates the best beach books, as far as I'm concerned.  I'd put her with Mary Kay Andrews on my list of adorable chick lit authors I know I can count on to keep me interested.  I usually only listen to books while I'm driving or sewing, but this one actually kept me up late at night listening in my bed.

Narration
I was very pleased with the narrator.  The book was a pleasure to listen to, and, as I mentioned above, held my interest beyond what audiobooks normally do.  I was able to sit still and listen for fun without falling asleep, which is a compliment both to the narrator and to Cook.

Overall
I definitely recommend giving this one a try.  Many critiques I read said that the main character comes across as immature and whiny and that her relationship with her brother feels young.  For me, that's what made the characters unique.  There ARE times when Deirdre is really immature and unlikable.  If it weren't for those moments, we wouldn't see her character grow the way we do.  As far as her bickering with her brother and sisters, well, welcome to life.  Adult siblings fight, often in the same ways they fought as children.  I don't have to try very hard to imagine saying to one of my adult brothers "I know you are, but what am I?"  Or maybe I'm just immature that way.  Regardless, I think those things are what allowed the characters to grow beyond typical stock chick lit fare.

Thanks to my local public library for making this one available via Overdrive!

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