From a to Zoe: A Chick Lit Mystery – by Marie-Jo Fortis – Review

I wonder if it is the author’s autobiographical novel. Albeit I found the prologue to be a tad disheartening, it is great to see how the narrator finally settles in with her not-so-perfect life by putting a smile on her face. Indeed the following paragraph illustrates that the narrator has a sense of humor, even if that maybe somewhat dark for tastes.

“My characters can be a real pain, but there is an upside to that. I can actually be a murderer and get away with it. If, for instance, Ed Esophagus-Ignoramus too often speaks with his mouth full, I can send him to the precipice, to the overdose, or to his mother-in-law, Bernice. law law”

The very next paragraph illustrates the personal, somewhat emotional connection that a writer sometimes develops with her book, so that it is hard to finish it by putting an ‘end’ to it:

“We really are a dysfunctional family, my characters and I. I can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Yet, I anticipate my liberation. It comes when the novel is finished, I’m sure of it. At that point, it’s bye-bye, boogers. Freedom, yoo-hoo! Yoo-hoo? Wait. I need to do one more thing: I type the end. The end. I have reached it. You would think I could breathe the end the end at last. But no, something else happens. My face gets wet. I cry like a baby. It’s not good-bye and good riddance.”

I really admire the toughness of this character, which I must say is somewhat unconventional given the character’s gender and book’s genre. Usually, what you find is chick-lit books (thankfully I don’t’ read too many of them or else I would puke) is that the main female character has a tough relationship and breakup with her a-hole boyfriend or husband and is quick to settle elsewhere to get over the heartbreak, only to find someone even better to steal her heart away. Talk about a white knight rescuing a ‘damsel in distress’: the theme gets old pretty quick. On the contrary, this story and the actions of the narrator are quite realistic to the core: you feel that this is how things happen in real life; this is how people behave in reality, etc. It is not like the main character does not feel empty in her life, it is not like her heart does not long for someone, but these feelings are conveyed in a very subtle rather than in the over-the-top ways which most other chicklit books use.

The dialogs are already realistic; the ellipses make them even more so:

“That is the biopsy,” Marc adds in an icy tone, turning toward me with an equally chilly look. He is eager to recover his professional stature in the presence of his mentor.

“Exactly,” Dr. Fontaine says, his tone a bit dry. This man does not like his recitations to be interrupted. “During the whole procedure, you will place your breast through an opening in an elevated tabletop. The radiolo-gist will work underneath the tabletop so as to easily access the breast…”

Now for the bad part: You know what, I could relate to the protagonist as far as her writing endeavors are concerned; I also sympathized with her medical condition, but I found the murder thing a big distraction to the story; the story could have been written in a different way that does not include murder; why the author found it necessary to include this angle is beyond me as the story would have been better off without it. And I found the following a bit too hokey to digest “He looks like Lord Byron, for Christ’s sake. And without the club foot. What else do you want?” I smile at the mem-ory of this gorgeous yet unattainable man. “That’s his nickname, actually. Byron, I mean. You remember that?”

Overall, I would recommend you check it out