Publishers WeeklyToughing it out in San Francisco, single mother Dawn and her nine-year-old daughter, Jewel, prove a sympathetic pair in Holm's fresh first novel (after her memoir The Toaster Broke, So We're Getting Married). After years of ambivalence about her relationship with David, an overbearing artist, Dawn (an exterminator by profession, illustrator by ambition) finally calls it quits and moves into a new house with a view of the San Francisco Bay and a downstairs studio she plans to rent out. Enter Harlan, a 30-something video producer at loose ends since his marriage with Macie fell apart under the strain of trying unsuccessfully to conceive a baby. Holm deftly and humorously brings Harlan and Dawn together when he responds to Dawn and Jewel's ad for their basement flat, finds a warm reception in their home and helps to reconstruct the overgrown garden. In a refreshingly unpredictable outcome, Dawn and Harlan become good friends while Harlan's best friend and business partner, Jason, serves as Dawn's love interest. With a quirky protagonist who likes bugs and her spunky daughter who keeps a rat, Holm has fashioned a charming urban tale of heartbreak and survival. Agent, Stephanie Rostan. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsDebut fiction from memoirist Holm (The Toaster Broke So We're Getting Married, 2002) charts a year in the lives of a group of San Franciscans struggling to find love, maintain love, get over lost love. After two miscarriages, Macie and her husband, Harlan, now have mechanical sex timed to the results of her ovulation tests. "The firecracker he'd married, with the scathing wit and the survivalist's demeanor, seemed to be disappearing in front of him," Harlan thinks. Ergo, the formula goes, he's a sitting duck for a sluttily dressed "birdcage dancer" named Sophia, who brings him home to her mirrored apartment in a converted firehouse and brings lust back into his life. Before long, Harlan has 'fessed up to Macie, moved out and found his own place. His landlady, Dawn, is a single mom who has recently split up with a long-time partner and moved into a house on a hill with her nine-year-old daughter, Jewel. Harlan tries to write a screenplay. Macie continues her quest to become a mother by trying artificial insemination. Sophia takes a string of ridiculous gigs, like standing on street corners in Vegas-style costumes to be picked up by busloads of Japanese tourists. Dawn transforms her talent for drawing bugs into a paying job in pest control and tries to keep up with Jewel, a delightful, vividly drawn character who walks away with most of the story. Harlan helps Dawn and Jewel transform the messy backyard into a garden with exotic plants. Dawn's ex gets engaged, reviving her own ambiguity about the state of marriage (Jewel is the result of a drunken one-night stand with a man who was in costume at the time). Then Macie becomes pregnant, and-guess what?-Harlan begins to find Sophia not soseductive after all. Awfully trite, but distinguished by delicious, sharply observed scenes of San Francisco's various neighborhoods and inimitable seasons.
- MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
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This is great read. I finisehd it one night. Some parts are so funny, that they made me spill my tea. I hope someday someone amke a movies out of this book becuase the 'Skunk' scene is precious. As a mother, I found stuggles of Dawn facinating and familiar at times. The portaria of 9 y old Jewel ring truth on so many levels. Description of San Francisco are very vivid and made me think if I came for a visit onc old foggy evening