Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review - PLAYDATE

 BOOK REVIEWER  FRAN LEWIS 

12:40pm Jun 7
 PLAYDATE 
AUTHOR  THELMA ADAMS


What happens when you and your husband are in an intimate position and your sixth grade daughter walks into the room? Even better what happens when she lashes out at her mother because she thinks she is strangling her father? What happens when one little girl is totally resentful of having to move from her home leaving all of her friends and having to go to a new school? Belle hates where she lives and no matter how hard she tries and how many bribes her mother puts in front of her nothing will ever make her love where she lives. Even more she dislikes and says it out loud her mother. The deep resentment shines through and this very bright no holds barred little girl does not mince her words when expressing her thoughts. Her father is her idol, her Adonis her best friend and the conversations they have about life, sex and relationships will definitely surprise the reader and Lance her father who is trying to be a great stay at home dad, husband, volunteer and much more. The Santa Ana winds are about to kick up in more ways than one as author Thelma Adams takes the reader on an inside tour of the Encinitas where things get hot and heated and not just the wild fires.

Straightforward, outspoken and definitely wise beyond her years, Belle’s caught in an intricate web between her father and mother who seem to want to recapture their youth, focused on their own needs and at times forget she is there. Never asking her opinion of what she would like for a birthday bash, Darlene, her perfectly manicured mom planned it around the reason they moved to this town which is the opening of her state of the art new diner. Adding balloons, Barbie decorations and more she decided to make it a double celebration without asking Belle for her thoughts. Lance’s primary role is to take care of all matters at home, deal with Belle, the babysitter and deliver the Girl Scout cookies. But, there is much more that the author shares with the reader such as the back-stories for each character allowing you to get to know them better.

Lance grew up as the man of the house when his parents separated. Darlene seems to treat life and its many situations as board meetings discussing the future outcomes and productivity of each event that has to be preplanned and perfectly orchestrated. The many back-stories are interesting and the author even includes Lance’s parents to help you learn more about him.

Playdate is about relationships, trust, betrayals, fear, vulnerability and passions ignited through vividly described situations encountered by each character and created by the author all becoming explosive in some way and igniting when the Santa Ana fires take control of their world. Added into the mix are two other players Alex and Wren Marker each playing a different role than expected in Lance and Darlene’s lives. Alex her business partner and much more and Wren who enjoys a romp in the sack Tantric style with Lance and then there is Julia the babysitter. Julia has a definite thing for Lance as we learn and yet she is amazing with Belle helping her come to terms with her feelings about her party and along with her close friend Sam, who happens to be Alex’s son, she expresses her true feelings about a lot of things bothering her.

The fires are starting to spread and the severity increased and the causes many. Discussing the diner Alex brings to light what is needed to create a unique image for her diner. But, when the winds are mentioned he does not take it seriously when Darlene expresses her concern. Darlene is caught up in her life in Encinitas and disregards the importance of her marriage and her daughter while meeting with Alex. Extensive hours spent leading up to the grand opening of her new restaurant hoping it will be an upscale place patterned after her cafĂ© in Barstow. But, when things get out of hand and her focus in dimmed by her own concerns what will happen to her relationship with Lance and Belle? Belle seems to be floundering in relation to the other kids and Lance seems to have lost his niche with other men who as Belle’s not so wonderful friend said infer are defined by their jobs, which sets their value, and worth. Belle and Lance share their banter, inside stories and definite connection with the reader. She is the one major bright spot in this novel.

Darlene and Alex share lunch as the author allows Alex to share some insight into Darlene’s personality. Darlene appears to be competitive in everything she does and with everyone. Never wanting to share her day with anyone or asked by her husband. Stating she misses the connection she once had with Lance. But, whose fault is that when you are not paying attention?

When Belle gets up in front of her class and her humorless teacher to present her report what happens will definitely enlighten the reader to those who should not become or be educators and to students caught up in status and not friendships. When Belle elaborates about her Dad’s accomplishments at home it gets lost in the shuffle not only to the other students but the teacher too. Then, Lance recounts his childhood and we begin to understand why he wants something different for Belle. The sad part is Belle is a great kid whose individuality should have been embraced by others but was cast aside because she was trying to be herself. Her father was cast aside because he did not have what most people would state” a real job.” Sad what society does to people and how they judge them!

The fires were increasing and the possibility that they might need to evacuate and cancel the opening and the party a consideration. An interesting party comprised of guests that her mother and Alec invited with only a few that she might identify with. The conversation centered on marriages, expectations and more. Realities come to light and both Darlene and Alec learn some harsh truths. When the conversation really heats up just like the fires Lance is defended by an unlikely source as the discussion centers around marriage, work and appreciating someone for what they do and who they are.

Told within three days the first two dealing with relationships, school and a revelation made by Wren to Lance the final day which is Saturday will unravel more than just each couple as Belle gets ready for the big opening and her party. Would it be what she expected or would it focus on her mother? What about the end result revealed for Wren and Lance? What Darlene learns next just might open her eyes to the truth behind Alec’s help and his real motive. What will she do and how will she convince Belle that the party was really for her? The ending will definitely surprise the reader and the final outcome you won’t expect.

Relationships are tested and one young girl named Belle stands tall and what she does just might cause her own fires to burn and spark the embers for her parents and many others. What happens when the fires hit home? Whose homes will be affected and will anything ever be the same? Will Lance and Darlene face the truth about their marriage and will Darlene see the light before it is too late? Read Playdate to find out just how author Thelma Adams brings it all together to an explosive conclusion that will make you really think. What is the true worth of a person? Money: Power: Job status or who they are? You decide after reading this great novel.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Let’s give this book: FIVE BELLES