Tickle Me by Monica Bouvier is billed as a romance novel, but the reader may find it to be more of a coming-of-age tale than anything else. The focus of the story is Alice and her transformation from an insecure, gawky loner to a confident, engaged woman. The catalysis behind this transformation is an online affair, but Alice ultimately decides to change her own attitude.
Ever since her childhood, Alice felt ugly and unimportant. Coming from a dysfunctional family, she spent her time buried in tomes of Greek Mythology rather than dating or making friends. As a young adult, she had to care for her ailing parents, taking a job she did not want. At work, she seems to be the brunt of the joke, never getting credit for anything. She has a single friend in Patty, who is an outgoing, party animal.
Then Alice meets Erik through an online dating site and goes through a slow transformation. She starts being noticed at work for her efforts and begins making more friends and feeling more self-assured. The remainder of the novel follows Alice and Erik’s courtship and eventual meeting, as well as Patty’s reaction to the whole thing.
Tickle Me has a fantastic concept; the reader will enjoy watching Alice change and grow. It has the feel-good quality of shy girl meets attractive guy, who whisks her off her feet and they live happily ever after. However, some readers may find the book to be redundant in places, as emails between Alice and Erick fill up pages upon pages, most saying the same thing over and over. In order to get the meat of the story, the reader may find herself skipping Erik’s “stories” all together.
Length and redundancy aside, the reader will be surprised with the outcome of the novel. Bouvier writes an in-depth character study of individuals as well as relationships. She asks questions about love, reality, and self-image. The reader will find an interesting story, meant to explore life, with an unexpected ending and some twists and turns along the way.
Rusty Goes to Prom is a short story with a simple premise, but rich prose. The narrator is none other than Rusty Barker—the high school janitor. Rusty is in the autumn of his life, but his status as janitor makes him popular with the student body. For reasons unknown to Rusty, the students enjoy searching him out and telling him about their lives. This story begins with such an incident—a student confides in Rusty and Rusty decides to intervene. The intervention leads to Rusty helping the student and, ultimately, helping himself.
Although Rusty Barker is almost 60, this story almost reads as a coming-of-age novel. During this short tale, he learns something about himself and his society. When the story comes to a close, Rusty has experienced new things and changed as a result. This story is perfect if the reader is looking for a quick, enjoyable read filled with humor and interesting characters.
Embracing You, Embracing Me is a coming-of-age story that begins when Roshell is a teenager and follows her into adulthood. The book begins with a prologue by Roshell that outlines her life at sixteen: she lives in a small town trailer park and has an intense desire to make something of herself, unlike her family in the past. In the beginning chapters, the reader meets the core cast of characters: Roshell who is outgoing and honest, her two closest friends Amber and Sabrina, and Gabriel – the new guy at school and Roshell’s crush. The reader also learns that Roshell’s dad cheated on her mother when she was pregnant and left before Roshell was born; therefore, Roshell trusts men about as far as she can throw them.
After much exposition about Roshell’s childhood and friends, the reader learns that Roshell has been invited to the Junior/Senior Prom by Tim who is a good friend. At the Prom, Tim and his buddies get kicked out for drinking. This leads to Gabriel offering her a ride home and then asking her to dance; they have an instant connection. Roshell spends the next few weeks pining over Gabriel from afar, too afraid to initiate anything. When Sabrina asks Roshell to sneak out to a friend’s party, the two girls have a great time until the unthinkable happens: Roshell is raped and refuses to tell anyone. Sabrina has no idea what to do, so she silently vows to be there for Roshell in whatever capacity she is needed.
Bellon writes an amazing tale that is heartbreaking and real. At its core, it is a tale about a woman trying to survive her life as she is dealt blow after tragic blow. Roshell has some terrible events happen to her and in order to move past them she must learn to accept her own faults and bad decisions; she must reconcile her past in order to have a future. Readers will devour this book in one sitting because the characters are so relatable and there is a compulsion to find out what happens to Roshell and if she ever escapes from her own insecurities and fears. Embracing You, Embracing Me is a story about past mistakes and future hopes, a story about moving on; it asks the question: “how does one accept happiness after a lifetime of sorrow?” Although this is a story about a girl, the message is one with which all readers can identify.
Embracing You, Embracing Me