Monday, July 28, 2014

book review: Suzanne Davis Gets a Life by Paula Marantz Cohen

The backstory: Paula Marantz Cohen is one of my best-kept secret authors. I first discovered her in the winter of 2003. I graduated from college in December 2002, moved "home" to Kansas City, and found myself with lots of time to read in a very icy winter. On the new release shelves at the library, I picked up Jane Austen in Boca on a whim. I loved it and promptly read all of her other novels too. (Read my review of Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan.)

The basics: Suzanne Davis is a 34-year-old New York who works as a technical writer for an air conditioning union. She wants to have a baby, and as her birthday approaches, she decides she needs to get a life...and turns to those in her Upper West Side apartment building.

My thoughts: Suzanne Davis Gets a Life captured me from the first page. Suzanne's narration is satirical, hilarious, and wise. She addresses the reader directly as she tells her story, and I could hardly read fast enough to enjoy her world and perspective. Her observations about the stay-at-home moms on the playground at her apartment building are witty and wise: "It is a characteristic of the stay-at-home mothers in this socio-economic group that they mix language from their former lives in high-powered jobs with subject matter of a profoundly trivial nature."

A lot happens in this slim novel, and I won't spoil its plot. If you're a fan of modern satire, books, and social commentary, then make time for Suzanne Davis Gets a Life. 

Favorite passage: "Stories like that don't have one point," I noted graciously. This happens to be one of the few practical insights I gained from my overpriced and otherwise useless English degree. "

The verdict: Suzanne Davis Gets a Life is smart, poignant, funny and confident. Suzanne's voice is honest, quirky and endearing, even as her actions are often wince-inducing. Despite grappling with serious ideas and events, neither Cohen nor Davis let the tone get too serious. This balance between the light and the heavy make this novel an entertaining read, but also a deep one.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 235 pages
Publication date: March 31, 2014 
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Suzanne Davis Gets a Life from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

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