by Francine Craft, contemporary (2004)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-447-1
The Best Of Everything can't be the best in every way when I end up thinking that the best thing that could happen to the heroine is a lifetime prescription of Prozac. And while we're at it, I'll take the Midol. The heroine Sherrie Pinson isn't just too stupid to live, she's stupid while weeping and whining and not doing one single thing to get herself out of trouble.
I mean seriously, okay, her husband is dead. She knows that her husband was cheating with her on her own sister, because the sister in question will remind her of this every single chance she has. So who does Sherrie blame for her current mess? Her husband's boss Byron, that's who. If Byron Tate hasn't fired her husband, he won't be murdered! If Byron hasn't fired her husband, she won't be suffering non-stop while having to take care of her six-year old daughter, a daughter that reminds Mommy that Mommy needs to find a new Daddy soon every chance that she gets too!
It is very hard to respect, much less care for, a heroine that lets everyone step all over her the way Sherrie does. Her sister mocks her and calls her names while throwing her affair with Sherrie's husband to Sherrie's face, and Sherrie is always read to drop everything when sister dearest calls to get more dirt rubbed on her face. In the meantime, Byron is a good guy, respected by everyone, suffering from the recent bereavement of his wife and kid, and more. Somehow Sherrie missed the memo, but maybe that's because she's too busy acting like a spineless idiot. She doesn't do anything here - she is just content to go about whining and wailing and sobbing tears about her life. It's also hard to care for Byron that much when he insists that he's loved Sherrie all along while claiming that the cheating husband of Sherrie is his best friend.
This book has every conceivable formula of the genre crammed in nilly-willy without any sense or rhythm. Some of these - like the Matchmaking Kiddie - are not necessary and only add to the clutter. Important questions - like whether Sherrie should be allowed to go about without psychiatric help - are skirted around for tedious and unthinking adherence to the formulae of the genre, to the point that I can predict what will happen in the story even when my eyes are crossed from the stupefying boredom I am experiencing.
If The Best Of Everything is anything to go by, Ms Craft knows her way around regurgitating overused plot devices with exacting adherence, but she has a long way to go before she can write an entertaining story that doesn't rely so heavily on badly cobbled-together hackneyed plot devices and the characters behaving stupid.
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