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The Joke's on Me
Laurie Boris, author
Stand-up comic Frankie Goldberg’s Hollywood dreams fall apart with an exclamation mark when a mudslide destroys her hopes, her home, and her entire collection of impractical footwear. Needing comfort, she returns to her mother's B&B in Woodstock, New York, where she spent her teen years doing chores and chasing after the handyman's hot, high-school-jock son. But the joke's on her. Now she has to deal with the mess she left behind, including her non-relationship with her bossy older sister and their mother's illness. And the handyman's son, now a minor-league baseball coach, is back in town.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Humorous, witty, and lighthearted, the plot dives right in, reeling in readers with a vibrant setup and panache that continues to echo throughout. These pages provide a satisfying blend of comedy, drama, and romance that keeps readers engaged.

Prose/Style: The writing is economical and curt where it needs to be and, at the same time, doesn't shy away from a more expository style strategically peppered throughout. The author showcases excellent situational awareness and delivers a satisfying course of literature to the readers.

Originality: The book is original and effective in its delivery, avoiding clichés and formulaic outcomes. The plot, the setting, and the characters feel unique and vibrant.

Character Development: The characters are marvelously flawed and complex. They carry the story, pulling the readers in with interactions that feel earnest, raw, and realistic, making for an excellent and memorable read.

Date Submitted: July 20, 2020

Reviews
A spunky comedian returns home to her big sister and first love after striking out in Hollywood in Boris’s appealing slice-of-life latest (after The Kitchen Brigade). After 36-year-old Frankie Goldberg loses her house to a mudslide, and with no acting gigs lined up, she drives cross-country to stay at her mother Sylvia’s bed-and-breakfast in Woodstock, N.Y. There, Frankie clashes with Jude, her married hippie older sister, and the gossipy locals. The sisters’ frosty relationship begins to thaw when Frankie helps Jude convert Sylvia’s inn into a new age retreat, and confronts her guilt for leaving Jude to place Sylvia in a nursing home. With her family ties on the mend, Frankie yearns for stability. Then her high school crush Joey Mazzarella, a former pro baseball pitcher who now coaches minor league, asks her out to dinner, and she contends with her insecurities while considering a possible romance. Boris strikes an upbeat tone with cheeky dialogue, and evokes a palatable sense of place. Readers of women’s fiction will appreciate this thoughtful story. (Self-published)

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