Friday, May 09, 2008
One of the coolest things that has happened to me recently is Mahlena-Rae Johnson, blogger extraordinaire of Steve the Penguin, asked me to review her book.
Um. Holy. Crap. Yes!
“Steve the Penguin” is the perfect novel to take to the beach, the park or on a plane ride this summer. At 189 pages, it’s a quick and easy read.
The story follows 20-something Bianca Reagan, a character who's truly living the new adult experience, working an assistant desk job but wanting a meaningful career and desiring a decent boyfriend but finding lackluster potential mates. It speaks to that time of life when you want desperately to find your place in the world and the comical journey that it takes getting there.
Johnson is in her element when she tackles the issues facing young women-- friendships, body image, men and the nerve-wracking hell that is high school reunion time. This book's greatest strength is its well-written characters and relationships, in particular female friendships.
For instance-- Liesl (Bianca’s friend since college) has seriously poor taste in men. When the inevitable fight erupts over Liesl’s mentally ill, estranged husband, the discussion was so raw and painful that I actually felt my heart racing. How many of us have been in that horrible situation (rock and a hard place anyone?) where one of our dearest girlfriends is dating a tool and there’s nothing we can say about it?
Readers follow Bianca from her LA office to her St. Thomas home where we meet her quirky family and see just how far Bianca's come since high school. She quickly feels less like a fictional character and more like a girl I’d love to hang with at the bar. I personally think Bianca and I would have a blast bitching about jobs, men and bad TV.
If you’re a fan of fast-paced, witty dialogue ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then Mahlena-Rae Johnson’s style is up your alley. Pop culture references pepper the pages and inject an even more ‘real’ edge to Bianca’s world.
The best part of “Steve the Penguin” is that there’s more to come (the next book is titled "Hot Penguin Action"!). Bianca Reagan is definitely a character I’d stick with through the years. I say we follow her to her 50 year reunion!
* On a side note, thank you to Mahlena-Rae for this wonderful opportunity and making me feel so special and honored. I’ve never reviewed a book before! Also thanks for giving a blogger like me hope that there’s life (and possibly even a career!) out there beyond cyberspace if we’re willing to do the work!