Waldman, author of the Mommy Track mystery series, here takes a more serious tack, telling the story of a young woman who battles the American legal system's inflexible drug laws. Olivia Goodman, a rebellious 22-year-old, dropped out of college as a sophomore and headed for Mexico. After she moved back to her hometown of Oakland, Calif., she was followed by Jorge Luis Rodriguez Hernandez, with whom she had a brief affair in Mexico. Jorge crossed the border illegally and is unable to find work, and Olivia feels obligated to support him. Desperate for money, Jorge is persuaded to participate in a drug deal, and Olivia's vague complicity sweeps her into an intense legal battle when she is arrested with Jorge. To make matters worse, Olivia discovers she's pregnant with Jorge's baby. As Olivia fights for her freedom, her mother, Elaine Goodman, is doubly tormented. Elaine raised Olivia on her own, but never felt she could love her enough. Now, when she has finally found happiness with a man, she is forced to choose between helping her daughter and holding on to her fiance. Waldman takes a somewhat didactic approach-U.S. drug laws are discussed at length, and the story of Elaine and Olivia's relationship can read like a case history-but Waldman's passion and affection for her characters shines through. (Oct.) Forecast: A 50,000 first printing and eight-city author tour might seem ambitious for this rather modest novel by Waldman (who is married to Michael Chabon), but the book comes festooned with an impressive array of blurbs (from Glen David Gold, Dave Eggers, Dorothy Allison and Amy Tan, among others). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Waldman, known for her delightfully lighthearted "Mommy Track" mysteries, here takes a serious turn as she explores the sad effects of the government's mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines on a middle-class California family. Elaine is a single mother whose relationship with her rebellious, difficult daughter Olivia is an emotional minefield. When Olivia, who is in the early stages of pregnancy, is arrested for selling drugs-although all she did was drive her boyfriend, an illegal Mexican immigrant, to meet his contact-both women come face to face with the realities of the law, which gives the judge little leeway in handing down a sentence. During Olivia's arrest, arraignment, and trial, and especially after the birth of her granddaughter, Elaine realizes that she has been given a second chance to forge a loving connection with Olivia. Although Waldman is clearly no fan of mandatory minimums, she follows the dictates of every good writing teacher by showing, not telling, readers the results of this misguided law. A good choice for all fiction collections.-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Waldman departs from her relatively lighthearted "Mommy Track" mysteries with this politically charged, emotionally complex novel. Olivia, in her early 20s and living with her illegally immigrated Mexican boyfriend in Oakland, CA, identifies with a number of radical causes. Her pharmacist mother, Elaine, having struggled against her tendency to be free of the burdens of motherhood almost from Olivia's birth, is about to marry her accountant boyfriend, with whom she already leads a judiciously predictable life in a middle-class Berkeley neighborhood. When Olivia's boyfriend participates in a methamphetamine deal, the young woman is arrested as an accomplice. The machinations of federal law pertaining to drug conspiracy, the use of criminal informants, a mother's lifelong connection to her child, and the hothouse of Berkeley's raised consciousness on issues from biracialism to psychotherapy to choice of street slang all come to life. The two women and the men in their lives are fully realized, with both their sympathetic and shameful motivations clearly limned and juxtaposed to create optimum tension. How Olivia copes with her unexpected pregnancy and Elaine's eventual discovery of her own ability to nurture a dependent baby resonate with credible bumps and jerks that ironically enhance the plot's smoothness. Waldman gives readers the opportunity to consider how economics, the law, social mores, and human beings' natural tendencies interact with and counteract one another.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A slow, downbeat story of a young girl arrested for drug trafficking under the federal court system's mandatory minimum sentencing rules. Waldman leaves behind her relatively lightweight Juliet Applebaum mysteries (A PlayDate with Death, 2002, etc.) to tackle a legal nightmare. Although Elaine Goodman has been a painstakingly responsible single parent, motherhood has always been a chore for her, and her daughter Olivia's needy, passionate personality hasn't made the job easier. Now, having dropped out of college, politically idealistic Olivia enjoys thumbing her nose at Elaine's hard-won bourgeois respectability. (After working her way through pharmacy school, Elaine now owns a store in Berkeley and lives with Arthur, a stereotypical bloodless accountant.) Working as a waitress, Olivia lives with Jorge, who arrived on her doorstep after they'd had a fling in Mexico that Olivia had assumed was over. Not really in love, she remains with him in part out of guilt, in part because it galls Elaine. Meanwhile, Jorge, who's been expelled from his Mexican university for political actions and feels humiliated by his inability as an illegal immigrant to support Olivia, makes the desperate decision to participate in a drug deal. Olivia discovers his involvement when the bartender from her restaurant leaves him a mysterious message. Although she passes the information on to Jorge, she begs him not to participate. One thing leads to another and suddenly police are knocking down her door and arresting Olivia for conspiracy. Worse, she soon realizes she's pregnant. At first Elaine, thanks partly to cold and unfeeling Arthur, resists helping Olivia, but as prison becomes an inevitability, Elaine's heartopens while Olivia finds a new calm maturity. It doesn't hurt that Olivia's lawyer is the handsome half-African-American, half-Jewish Izaya Feingold-Upchurch. Olivia's final statement at her sentencing hearing is a no-holds-barred indictment of the evils of mandatory minimum and the absurdity of the current drug laws. Waldman explores the mother-daughter relationship with a sure touch, but her didactic political stance is wearying. First printing of 50,000; author tour. Agent: Mary Evans/Mary Evans Literary Agency