Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Any Day Now by Toby Devens

4.5 Star

Every five years my mother had her fortune read by Lulu Cho, owner of the Golden Lotus Massage Club for Men. Now it was my turn. And Lulu predicted one hurricane of a future for me!

Judith Soo Jin Raphael’s childhood was shaped by her hardworking immigrant mother, her father who left them, and her struggles to fit in as a half-Korean, half-Jewish kid in a tough urban neighborhood. But music lessons gave her a purpose and passion. Now, as Judith’s fiftieth birthday nears, she has rewarding work as a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic, an enthusiastic if uncommitted lover, and a quirky but close relationship with her mother.

Then chaos strikes: Judith’s first love, who dumped her decades ago, returns to dazzle her with his golden pedigree and brilliant career. Her long-absent father arrives out of the blue with a snazzy car and a con man’s patter, turning her mother into a love-struck flirt whom Judith barely recognizes. All this while her mentor at the orchestra falls seriously ill. No wonder Judith develops a paralyzing case of stage fright.

Judith finds herself feeling—and sometimes acting—slightly unhinged, but she’s convinced that happiness will arrive any day now. She’s just got to hold on tight during this midlife shake-up...and claim the prize that life surely has in store for her.

Lydia - 4.5 Star

Happy Any Day Now moves along at a quick clip, and there were so many things to love about it this novel full of emotion and humour. A story about family, career, and finding love and acceptance, we follow the main character, Judith, while she navigates love and life just as she is about to turn fifty.

Judith is a fabulous character to root for. She’s immediately likeable. She’s intelligent and focused. She grumbles about her mother, but you know she loves her. She’s different from most fifty-year-olds I’ve read about because she doesn’t have children, so I found this interesting and refreshing. And I love that she didn’t dwell on this. It just never happened, and that was that. Her career as a cellist with the Maryland Philharmonic plays a pivotal part in the novel and it was so unique to anything I’ve ever read, which made a wonderful and interesting change. I enjoyed the descriptions of the music and learning what living as part of an orchestra is like. 

Part of the reason Judith is so interesting is because although she has it together in so many respects, in many others she absolutely does not. She’s fully flawed, particularly when it comes to men. It's obvious from the get go that she has the right man, Geoff, even though she has no idea. Everyone can see it – but Judith. And when she interrupts their causal relationship the moment an old flame resurfaces, I wanted to shake her so she’d come to her senses. 

I also wanted to do this from time to time regarding the relationship with her long lost father who up and left when she was a little girl and who suddenly reappears at the same time as her lost love. Talk about confusing. Add to this a close friend, almost father-figure, dying of cancer, and a performance she cannot afford to mess up, Judith is tossed a lot to deal with. There is much going on, but there is a levity within the book and how Judith deals with it all, that never makes it seem too heavy.

Can I just say how much I loved Judith's mom? She’s spunky, smart, and sassy. I thought the dialect Devens uses for her mother’s speech was bang on and never became too much as some attempts at dialects do. I loved the gradual reveals over the course of the novel and then I loved her even more.

Happy Any Day Now provided insight into orchestra life and Korean heritage for me, and was story I thoroughly enjoyed. Anyone looking to learn a little or just wants to read an amusing, smart, and often sassy novel about love and life, family and friendship, will enjoy this one!

Thank you to Penguin USA for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Toby Devens:

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...