Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: Happy Any Day Now

Happy Any Day NowAuthor: Toby Devens
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: NAL Trade

Every five years my mother had her fortune read by Lulu Cho, owner of the Golden Lotus Massage Club for Men. Now it was my turn. And Lulu predicted one hurricane of a future for me!

Judith Soo Jin Raphael’s childhood was shaped by her hardworking immigrant mother, her father who left them, and her struggles to fit in as a half-Korean, half-Jewish kid in a tough urban neighborhood. But music lessons gave her a purpose and passion. Now, as Judith’s fiftieth birthday nears, she has rewarding work as a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic, an enthusiastic if uncommitted lover, and a quirky but close relationship with her mother.

Then chaos strikes: Judith’s first love, who dumped her decades ago, returns to dazzle her with his golden pedigree and brilliant career. Her long-absent father arrives out of the blue with a snazzy car and a con man’s patter, turning her mother into a love-struck flirt whom Judith barely recognizes. All this while her mentor at the orchestra falls seriously ill. No wonder Judith develops a paralyzing case of stage fright.

Judith finds herself feeling—and sometimes acting—slightly unhinged, but she’s convinced that happiness will arrive any day now. She’s just got to hold on tight during this midlife shake-up...and claim the prize that life surely has in store for her.

A minute into the agony, I collapsed with the aneurysm that almost killed me.

Blame it on spring fever. Or on the cherry blossom trees that were currently turning the dowdiest parts of a Baltimore into a pink blaze of glory. The flowers bloomed for a few days of gorgeousness and then faded away. But oh, how they lived when they lived. Maybe they weren’t the best inspiration for making a dangerous decision.

So there it was. All laid out for me in living color. Charlie and I moved in different worlds that would only collide if we tried to nudge them closer.

He looked doubtful and kept watch on me throughout rehearsal. He really cared.

Judith Soo Jin Raphael is unlike any other character I have ever met. She is a half Korean, half-Jewish cellist player with the Maryland Philharmonic Orchestra whose father left when she was young and has been raised solely by her immigrant mother. When we meet her in this novel she is approaching her 50th birthday, and chaos literally breaks out in life just when she thought she had everything semi under control. Judith strives to convince herself that happiness will come any day now.

Judith is an awesome character and a perfect guide to take readers through this story. She is written as a flawed character, and at the age of 49 she shows women that not everyone is able to figure their lives out in their 20’s or 30’s. I think this was a bold move for the author, and I enjoyed following Judith. Judith is still learning a lot about herself, and I enjoyed seeing an older woman in this predicament instead of the usual 20 or 30 year old that has just been dumped, embarrassed, lost their job, and the list goes on and on. Judith was just the dose of quirkiness that I needed!

Not only did I love Judith, but I also loved most every other character that Devens shares with us. I love Judith’s mom and Geoff the best. However, it was quite interesting to see how Charlie fit in the scenario as well. Charlie, Judith’s old flame, came back into the picture unexpectedly and it was very interesting to see Judith deal with all of the commotion and uproar in her life. All of the characters in this story were real and relatable and made Judith’s journey all the better!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at NAL Trade in exchange for my honest review***

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