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The Bright Side of Disaster: A Novel Hardcover – June 26, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First-time novelist Center nails ornery and opinionated Texas women in this uneven tale of survival of the hardly fit. "It's not how you wanted it, but it's how it is," jilted and pregnant Jenny Harris is advised by her long-divorced mom. "Much of mothering is that way." Jenny's rock and roll wannabe fiancé Dean Murphy ditches her for a woman who died before he had the chance to sleep with her. ("I don't feel the same about you anymore. It's not my fault," he writes in his I'm-outta-here note.) Jenny has little time to nurse the heartbreak; baby Maxie is born the next day, and all Jenny's plans implode. What pulls Jenny through new mom hell is a network of bright, fearless women who thrive despite the bumbling men around them: Jenny's feisty mom with the "big Texas personality," blunt best friend Meredith and single-mom Claudia prove single women needn't be lonely, pathetic or poor. Yet this gaggle of sharp and funny supergals mostly falls apart when it comes to men. There's a rogue's gallery of thinly drawn louts, and from the rabble rises Jenny's dreamboat neighbor John Gardner, a pediatric nephrologist on sabbatical. Dean, of course, reappears, presenting Jenny with a not-difficult dilemma. Center's debut is fast-moving and pleasantly diverting, thanks to sharp dialogue and a narrative that's heavier on the sass than the diaper rash. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Jenny Harris is nesting in her Houston home with her fiance, Dean, awaiting the birth of their child, to be followed by their wedding. But Dean grows more distant, especially after a coworker dies in a plane crash, and Jenny ends up becoming a single mother. Determined to take good care of her child, she tries to forget about Dean, relegating him to the past. Coping with a baby takes all Jenny's time, so when her perfect single neighbor takes an interest, Jenny is flattered but exhausted. Then, when she finally decides to take a chance and get to know him, Dean comes back into her life. In her stellar first novel, Center paints an accurate and humorous view of motherhood, from the physical changes to lack of sleep and exhaustion as well as the changes in friendships and feelings about men. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (June 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066377
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,568,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Harper on June 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm glad my wife recommended this book to me - she laughed out loud reading it and thought I'd like it. It's not the type of book I'd normally pick up (older guys usually don't read about the problems of young mothers, and it's not in the mystery genre that I normally read for fun). But this is not just a "woman's" book. I loved it. It's well written, and more important the characters become real people. The guys are never put down (although of course some are nicer than others). It is a funny, warm, well-written novel. I can recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite the rather misleadingly grim title, I found this book fast and easy reading.

Although one of the main themes of the book is about being a new, single Mom, that's not the only theme. I'm sure those who have been a new mother will find much to identify with here, but I also enjoyed the book despite not having that distinction. There is really something for everyone, with interwoven storylines featuring relationships of every type - family, love and friendship.

I found it a quick, light, yet rich, book to curl up with. I'll look forward to the author's next book, since this is her first.
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Format: Hardcover
Here's a book I just drowned myself in, and finished it in a 24-hour timeframe, while still doing the other daily crap a SAHM of three kids does. I willingly slammed myself into the world of Center's characters!

The Bright Side of Disaster is classified as Chick Lit and it is, but without the goofy I-Need-A-New-Pair-Of-Shoes context (no offense to you Manallanno-Ding-Dong-Choo wearing gals out there!)

Dean and Jenny are engaged and living together but then Dean kind of freaks out and deserts Jenny and her nine-month pregnant self THE DAY BEFORE SHE HAS THE BABY!

Jenny is a Goddess! She figures out that life without a man is better than life with a bad man, and she rises to the challenge of single motherhood, all baby-in-one-hand,-a-handful-of-grapes-in-the-other! (Sidenote: I wish I knew about THAT diet when I had my kids!)

Jenny discovers she's more amazing than she ever thought possible. She's given life to another human being, she's "made eye lashes!" She offers care, and comfort, and love to another person who wholly depends on her 24/7, 365. I look at the character of Jenny and wished I could have been a mother like that!

Enter cute pajama-clad neighbor. And ooh, in my book, Gardner is a HOTTIE! He's hot, he's handy, he's handsome, he's a helluva neighbor, great with babies and single mothers! Fortunately he's got his eye on one single mother in particular: Jenny.

Of course, the jerk comes back (for those of you not paying attention here, it's Dean), and for some unknown freaky reason Jenny sleeps with him again! (I think because as writers we are supposed to give our characters grief, and what better way to give Jenny grief than to make her sleep with Dean again!)

But can you really blame her?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
While parts of this book are entertaining, I found the characters to be one dimensional and the plot of the book to be extremely reminiscent of Anna Maxted's Watermelon. I found the heroine to be a bit of a martyr, the ex fiance to be a one dimensional jerk, the new guy to be too perfect (really, how realistic is it that the perfect man is interested in a single mother of a 1 month old?) The first chapter doesn't seem to fit the rest of the book -- what, really, does this plane crash have to do with anything? I found the main character to be unlikable because the author does not show her flaws (although, her reaction to her fiance's grief over a dead co-worker makes her pretty unsympathic from page 2). I did enjoy the scenes of childbirth, new motherhood, etc...they were detailed and entertaining. Loved the Texan mother character, and wish the other characters had some more depth to them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can't give this five stars because I've read more intriguing books -- and this one was rather short as well -- but it was enjoyable. There could gave been more character development, esp. in the case of Jenny's father, and Gardner is just too good to believe -- pity... -- but again, an enjoyable feel-good book overall.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to grab the main character by the face and just shake her until she got some sense. First she says yes to an immature, self-centered idiot like Dean who has only chosen her because he couldn't have who he really wanted. Then after he leaves her high and dry she lets the irresponsible mooch back into her life, when a nice guy who's actually good with her baby wants her. I also found her behavior during the delivery to be a tad annoying, but whatever. It's a good book, enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a light, fun book for the summer that I thoroughly enjoyed. Being a first time mom, I was able to identify with "Jenny" and I thought Katherine Center's description of those first few months (birth, breast-feeding, exhaustion and all) was spot on! She described this period better than I could articulate it. I plan on buying this book to give away as a baby shower gift for new mommies.
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By Jessica on December 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this easy to read book...if you are looking for something quick and breezy...this is it! I read it in a matter of a few days. It is very much a 'chick lit' but that's exactly what I was seeking when I bought it. I've recommended it to friends who like similar books!
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