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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: All the Wrong Places

  • Author: Rebecca Fisher
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rebecca Fisher Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780615418292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615418292

All the Wrong Places is a fictionalized account of the author’s own real life experiences as the single mother of a young daughter who just happens to live in a mortuary. The story begins with the protagonist, Casey, driving aimlessly through the dark and rainy San Francisco night with her daughter Maddy in tow after having left her abusive, unfaithful husband, Jerry.

After crashing her car on a hill and having nowhere else to go and no one she can call for assistance, Casey is forced to seek sanctuary at the nearby Golden Oaks Funeral Home. Here she meets Merman, an attractive accommodating man who lives and works at the mortuary and who eventually offers her a job and a home in the form of an apartment above the mortuary. As she acclimates to her new surroundings, Casey meets a handful of colorful characters including Oliver, a handsome doctor with his own story to tell, and Eddie who defies description.   

Having secured employment and a home for herself and Maddy, as well as surrounding herself with a network of supporting friends, Casey begins the stressful and arduous process of divorcing Jerry so that she can move on with her life and perhaps find new love. With every small victory she claims, Jerry becomes more and more vindictive and determined to take everything away from Casey, including Maddy, because she dared to defy him.

All the Wrong Places is a story that really draws you in once you start reading. The pacing is even and there were no lulls in the main-plot. The few subplots felt neither unnecessary nor did they detract from the overall story. The author does an excellent job of balancing the bits of humor with the seriousness of the subject matter and in just the right places. The legal aspects of the story seemed quite accurate and Casey’s reactions to the process seemed realistic without going over the top.

Although I enjoyed the overall story, I found some plot points unrealistic in that things just seem to fall into place a little too neatly for Casey. However, since this is a work of fiction I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Had this story been presented as non-fiction, I would have had a bigger problem accepting some of the coincidences. The character of Uncle Stanley, the owner of the mortuary, was noticeably underdeveloped as it seemed he was included solely for creating an outside conflict to match Casey’s inner apprehension about working with the bodies of dead people.

Although Casey was a sympathetic character, she seemed unable to take responsibility for her own part in the dissolution of her marriage and her circumstances. She blamed her distant mother, her over-bearing father, her controlling husband but it was she who ignored what was going on around her. She suspected her husband was cheating, she suspected he was a drug-dealer (as it was implied) but she didn’t care as long as the bills were paid. I also find it hard to believe that as the daughter of a lawyer, who was being groomed to become a lawyer herself, that she wouldn’t have had access to any of their accounts or would sign a contract without reading it beforehand.

All the Wrong Places is not a book that I would have typically chosen for myself to read, as I did not feel that I fit the demographic toward which I felt it was directed. However, the more I read it, the more I wanted to read! As a child of divorce who was raised by his grandparents, I identified with Merman and I could understand why he wanted to help Casey succeed. Despite its few flaws, I really enjoyed All the Wrong Places and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to hear Casey’s story.

Carolina Dean

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