More Like Her by Liza Palmer

She's got it all. At least that's what it seems like to speech therapist Frances Reid upon meeting her lovely, talented and successful new boss, Emma Dunham (who happens to be the first ever female headmistress at the posh Markham Prep School. Ahem, she's that perfect.). Perfect job, husband, house and life and to top it off, Frannie discovers she's actually a really nice person. While in comparison, Frannie's life could nicely be described as a train-wreck. But what do we really know about our friends lives, if anything at all? That's the question Frannie and her friends must ask themselves when tragedy strikes Markham School and Emma Dunham in particular.

I honestly do not know how Liza Palmer keeps doing it. Really. This latest novel*, More Like Her, contains one of the touchiest subjects out there -- bullying, abuse, and hello...death and she just pushes it all upfront and forces you to deal with it straight on -- all the time feeling like you're right there. Especially in all those moments when the characters are dealing with messy aftermath of hurt and guilt for trying to get on with their lives. Because that's really where this book excels. You'd think reading a novel where every couple of pages someone is falling apart would be annoying at best or even slightly embarrassing, but no. Not remotely so. Frannie and company's grief is so real and honest and open that it becomes impossible for you to even think of addressing the circumstances any other way.

What I especially loved was that Liza Palmer gave each of her characters room to deal with such a horrible event in their own way. Be it healthy or not. Frannie wants to 'taaaalk' about it all, Jill doesn't want to ever speak of it again and Lisa, well, Lisa finds the silver lining through it all. And then there's Sam. Sam about broke my heart numerous times with his quick Southern boy charm and manners and his definite un-okayness with it all. But it was just so understandable, warts and all. Every single reaction felt real and while utterly sad in theory it was thoroughly suffused with Liza Palmer's trademark dry wit to keep everyone moving along.

One thing I really like about Liza Palmer's books is that she doesn't dumb down to her audience. She doesn't explain every reference or give her readers time to catch up, she simply drops these little or big nothings along the way and expects you to be with her 100%. Can I say how much I love that about her books? It's like mental gymnastics in the best way possible. This is never more apparent in Frannie's case as she often leaves much unsaid (or halfway said) and expects the reader to follow along. And can I just say: I'm totally with you, Ms. Palmer, totally.

*Just do me a favor and stay far, far away from the publisher's book description. It's waaayyy too spoilery for it's own good. Grrr..

Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Angieville review
Leeswammes' review
Peeking Between the Pages review

book source: my local library


Angiegirl said...

I'm with her, too. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Michelle said...

Angie - Thanks again for reminding me that I needed to get to this one so I now can read her latest. I love Palmer's books...

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Anonymous said...

Oh this ones sounds lovely! It seems like it's just as good as Seeing Me Naked. I'll try to bump it up the TBR pile.