From Publishers Weekly
Like a favorite old mix tape, McCafferty's collection of 14 stories tugs at the heartstrings and illuminates life's pivotal moments. In "Family on Ice," a spunky X-ray technician longs for a divorced man who's smitten with their mutual friend; at a Christmas party, she - a self-proclaimed "third wheel" - finds quiet companionship with a self-proclaimed "family bum." In "Guiding Light," a young girl convinces her seemingly closed-minded mother (whose musical taste stops at Burt Bacharach) to let her take piano lessons with their new neighbor, "a mixture of a nun and an artsy-fartsy." Twenty-five-year-old Griffin shocks his parents by bringing home a 60-year-old veterinarian bride in "Berna's Place"; as his parents slowly warm up to Berna, they also begin to reassess their own marriage. Under the influence of loneliness (and some newly prescribed Paxil), the father in "Light of Lucy" contemplates shouting to a parking lot full of parents waiting for their children, "Do you not grasp that life could be more like the movies if only you got out of your stupid car and opened your heart?" Before long, he finds himself sharing the front seat with a vibrant woman who bears a striking resemblance to the late, great Lucille Ball. Though some character types seem a bit overplayed, McCafferty (One Heart) offers tales as down-to-earth as the Bruce Springsteen tunes that unite a lonely woman with a young boy from the other side of the tracks in "Dear Mr. Springsteen," and as irresistible as any pop song.
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McCafferty (One Heart,
1999) has a wicked sense of humor and a whimsical way with a plot. In the 14 stories collected here, the spiky humor is omnipresent, and the outcomes are never predictable. In "Family on Ice," a lonely X-ray technician is invited by her elegant friend to a family outing ("Did I mention that the very idea of a family that goes ice skating together is beyond my ken?"). There she meets the "family bum," who reminds her how big life can be, how the world is "lit with grace." In "Bernie's Place," a 25-year-old man brings home his 60-year-old wife to meet his folks, improving the family dynamics in an unexpected but welcome way. Elsewhere, a Paxil-popping divorced father drinks hot chocolate with Lucille Ball. Loneliness and the unexpected, life-affirming connections that people are capable of forging with strangers are favorite themes. Music is ever-present, sometimes in the background, sometimes more prominently, serving as a cue to both mood and meaning. These are funny and uplifting stories for fans of the form. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved