From Publishers Weekly
Being away from home is a transformative experience for the women in this second collection by Iowa Short Fiction Award–winner Shomer (for Imaginary Men
); 10 stories travel from Sweetheart, Fla., to Dharamsala, India, and range from the fantastical to the mundane. In the strongest story, "Fill in the Blank," 20-year-old Florida transplant Garland McKenney and her roommate, Linda, rob a Manhattan physical therapy office. The guilt weighs heavier on Linda, but it is Garland's confused moral compass that resonates. "Sweethearts," about Garland's high school affair with the local sheriff, explores the roots of Garland's criminal tendencies. Shomer has a knack for ferreting out the disappointment of aging, as in the title story, in which Frieda realizes she resents the company of her recently retired husband. Less accomplished are Shomer's stabs at out-there material. In the awkward and opening story, "Chosen," Iris, a speech therapist, discovers she is a Buddhist saint, while "Laws of Nature" features a woman who ages in reverse, à la Max Tivoli. The collection will appeal to Shomer's readership, but will do little to attract new eyes. (Apr.)
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A Jewish Miami housewife is pronounced the Great Adept by emissaries from the Dalai Lama. A lonely teenage runaway from a backwater Florida town pulls off a daring hit-and-run robbery with her roommate in Manhattan. Two competitive women writers attempt to bond during their unexpected arrest for civil disobedience. A menopausal matron suddenly regains her youthful vigor only to lose her husband. Although her heroines may find themselves in unconventional situations, in Shomer's adept hands they appear as natural in such untoward circumstances as if they were their birthright. Vibrantly recognizable, as familiar as the neighborhood babysitter or the elderly woman sharing an elevator, Shomer's female protagonists embody an underlying universality of experience that serves them well when confronted with sudden changes of fortune. Their challenges might at first seem deceptively benign--a college student's summer job working alongside her cousin, for example, until Shomer seamlessly morphs them into situations that sparkle and excite through a delectable undercurrent of danger. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved