Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Through Thick and Thin by Alison Pace

Ostensibly the story of two sisters, living very different lives, who are going to tackle dieting together, this is not so much that as it is the alternating stories of Meredith, a zaftig restaurant critic, and Stephanie, a stay home mom with extra baby weight to lose. While they are indeed sisters, their lives don't cross much without effort and since both seem to think her sister's life is perfect, or at least as close as it gets, and therefore harbor a slight jealousy toward the other, their lives don't intersect as much as expected. Meredith identifies herself as a failure because she isn't thin and doesn't have the perfect husband. She is looking to meet her very own successful doctor, lawyer, stock broker and round out her lonely life. Stephanie doesn't feel like she fits in with the suburban New Jersey moms around her and wonders when her marriage stopped working, pre- or post-baby.

Both sisters have to face the fact that while their lives may not be what they imagined, only they can take charge and make the changes they so desire. Meredith falls in love with and adopts a mini daschund/terrier mix who leads her to start taking yoga and question her long held values. (Odd pathway, I know but true nonetheless.) Stephanie discovers her husband's prescription drug abuse and realizes that everything in her life isn't in her control.

Both of the sisters face their new lives without each others' support and each of their stories take place by turns isolated from the other. This makes the plot feel very choppy and as if the author had two different plot ideas and instead of fleshing one or both out into their own novel, mashed them together into this not entirely successful offering. The narrative occasionally breaks into second person, with the narrator directly addressing the reader, a tough convention to pull off and I don't think that Pace manages to quite do it. The premise is cute but there are some heavy-handed lessons in here about accepting oneself and appreciating the joy in life and plot lines that don't seem to be turning the proper way are simply abandoned. Not my favorite chick lit but fine in the long run if you aren't bothered by the narrative shift both from third person to second and from one disconnected character to another.

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