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Good Grief
by Lolly Winston

Category: Fiction / General
352 pages; ISBN: 0446533041

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Kathryn Lively


Widows are not supposed to be young, or helpless. Widows are supposed to be capable seniors who, having expected the inevitable, are able to soldier forward and pack boxes of leftover clothes and knickknacks for the Goodwill without a second thought. This is Sophie Stanton's mindset, anyway, herself being a young, helpless widow who appears to be a bystander in her own life. Her workplace appears cold and unsympathetic to her plight, her mother-in-law wants to erase all evidence of late husband Ethan from Sophie's home, and the produce clerk at the grocery store is just plain baffled by this odd woman's emotional outbursts amongst the fruits and vegetables.

Friends and relative provide comfort, but no solutions that seem plausible to Sophie, who literally does not know the next step ("I'm not sure what to choose as a New Year's resolution. Don't crawl on the floor at the store anymore?" she narrates). A fresh start -- new home, new town, new job -- proves to be the only answer as Sophie timidly takes a leap from Silicon Valley to a quaint Oregon hamlet, thinking the rest of her life will progress smoothly. Sophie, unfortunately does not count the bumpy road ahead, courtesy of the subject from Big Brothers/Big Sisters given her (a budding pyromaniac whose mantra is "Whatever!"), an in-law struck with Alzheimer's, and flying shrimp scampi (which is probably expected of a PR specialist with no experience in waiting tables).

Throughout her various adventures in bunking with a friend with questionable taste in men, an agonizing battle over whether or not to keep Ethan's ski sweater, and politics (and grabby hands) in the restaurant kitchen where she works, the reader is treated to Sophie's detailed, oft times hilarious inner monologue. Nearly every man she meets becomes a fantasy knight ready to rescue her, her future is idealized, her mind is busy to prevent another breakdown in the produce section. Lolly Winston gives us in GOOD GRIEF a sympathetic heroine who inspires a range of emotions in just one sitting - you want to hug her, then shake her back into her senses, then hug her again. A fine book for a summer read.


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