Monday, December 5, 2011

Downsizing by W. Soliman

Maxine Small is invisible in a crowded room--no one can see through all the extraneous layers of fat to the sensitive girl lurking beneath. No one except local heartthrob Noah Fenwick. But he, too, lets her down when he up and marries Maxine’s best friend—the pretty, skinny best friend whom he always pretended to hate.

Maxine runs away to university and doesn’t see Noah again for ten years. Slim now, she returns to her home town as a successful lawyer, hoping to lay the ghost that is Noah to rest.

Now with three children, Noah is trapped in a loveless marriage with no escape clause. Drawn toward him as strongly as ever, Maxine learns the true reasons behind his marriage to Cassie but, with the children being used as human bargaining tools, there’s nothing Noah and Maxine can do about their feelings, is there?

Reviewer: avidscribe
Fat girls aren’t supposed to have fun.

At 210 pounds, Maxine’s last year in high school is filled with derision and teasing from all those around her, including her mother who seems more caring towards her garden than her overweight, miserable daughter. Maxine’s only respite is her friend Noah who doesn’t care about the weight and sees the golden girl underneath. The fact that he’s a gorgeous guy who has female jaws unhinging when he walks into a room makes Maxine doubt his motivation and think he’s patronizing her but he assures her he is not. He is the one person who truly understands what makes her tick and gives her the confidence to believe in herself. She’s crazy in love with him, always has been, but he appears to treat her like a kid sister and she’s terrified of taking an active role in making them more. She’s been there for him while he’s caroused and womanized, they’ve been buddies for years with a shared love of books and intelligent conversation who connect on a meaningful, empathetic level.

Cassie Fenwick, a predatory “friend” (used in the loosest of terms) of Maxine’s, has hungry eyes for Noah who won’t give her the time of day but one fateful day Noah succumbs to her—even though he knows better—and pays the price of his dalliance having to abandon plans for a future that might have included Maxine. Maxine is shocked and hurt beyond words when she finds out and immediately leaves town, vowing never to talk to Noah again and certainly never to return.

Fast forward 12 years. Secrets and lies abound. We find Cassie is an unhappy wife and mother of three with her husband Noah more interested in late nights at the office than conjugal relations. He lives for his kids and he’s a terrific father but the kids are at an age where mommy’s drinking problem is becoming dangerous to their well being.

Maxine has spent the years honing her skills into corporate law. She’s got a good—albeit unfulfilled—life, a good job and the lifestyle change has trimmed the excess fat she used to carry. Her university friend gifted her with laser surgery for her beautiful emerald eyes and the ugly ducking has emerged as the swan she always has been under the tent dresses and awkwardness. She’s a stunner.

Hitting the proverbial “glass ceiling” at the law office she works at forces her to reassess her goals and an offer of a partnership back in her old hometown makes her think the time is right to put old ghosts to bed. Maxine’s triumphant return is every woman’s wish, to be able to walk into a room where you’ve been reviled and mocked and have men fighting over you and women envious. However, told entirely in the passive tense and strictly 3rd person, I felt disconnected to the emotional moments. Having her voice at this key moment would have made for a more connective and rewarding read.

More of this book seems to be about Cassie and her machinations, her selfish, insecure-based cruelty, her life sloshing inside a shot glass, rather than explaining for us how Noah has been able to steel himself to have two more children with her. One mistake I understand. To continue having sex with a woman you despise is unbelievable. Again, I felt what was missing was some first person inner dialog to feel the true spirit of these characters. The book needed an active voice which would have propelled these characters off the page and engaged me as a reader more.

The end was not quite satisfactory for me. Cassie’s willingness to abandon her kids (one bearing the DNA of her lover who gives her the HEA she’s always craved but apparently has no interest in being a father which is morally reprehensible) was more than surprising. WIthout hearing her, inwardly, I was left in the dark understanding her entire character arc.

On a side note, from a grammatic POV, this book’s lack of commas dragged me down in several instances where I had to go back and reread to make sure I read the sentence straight. That’s an editor not doing her job. It's an average read, so only 3 stars.

Publisher: Musa Publishing
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders


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