Book Talk: *Going in Circles* with Mike (Everything Under the Sun)

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Mike is one of my longest-standing blog buddies. He’s been a frequent commenter here for the last couple of years, and has blogged at Everything Under the Sun since early 2008 (and we met in person last year – for the record, he doesn’t look like Bender from Futurama in real life).  He’s a married father of two who works some very odd hours, and his blog topics are wide-ranging; they have been known to include food, running, and popular culture, and he’s my main source for finding out about the latest ridiculous infomercial products.

Please welcome today’s guest blogger to The 3 R’s, as he tries out book blogging with a discussion of a book I sent him not too long ago. It was outside of his normal reading comfort zone, but he gave it a shot anyway – nothing like the fear of a roller-derby beatdown (from the author, not from me!) to motivate a guy, I guess! (You might be able to motivate him to do another book review if you give him some good comments on this one!)

Before I start into the review I wanted to say a few things. First, thanks to Florinda for letting me do this. She is the one that picked up this book and got it autographed for me. I knew that I had to do this when she posted that she was looking for guest bloggers when she is on vacation. Second, I’m not a book blogger by trade. I hope this isn’t a complete mess and Florinda wishes I never asked to do this. Third, this would be qualified as a chick-lit book, so I’m not its target audience by any means. My thoughts may be different than those in the target audience. But, isn’t that what makes this fun?

With that, on to the book!

Going in Circles: A Novel
Pamela Ribon

Downtown Press (2010), Paperback original (ISBN 1439193908 / 9781439193907)
Fiction, 336 pages
Book description: Charlotte Goodman has had enough surprises.

In fact, she reached her life’s quotient when her husband of months walked out on her, only to abruptly change his mind a few weeks later and move back in. Stung by a whiplash of grief, resentment, and confusion, Charlotte calls a time-out, taking a small apartment where she can figure out what she wants. Instead, the thought of making even the simplest choices triggers an anxiety attack. In order to get out of bed in the morning, she must concoct a to-do list for each day, The Plan, one with absolutely no surprises.

“Without The Plan, horrible things can happen. I’m likely to end up sitting on a curb beside a taco truck on Sunset Boulevard, crying over a carne asada burrito, wondering where my marriage went. I can’t handle being the Weeping Burrito.”
Charlotte knows all this self-absorbed introspection isn’t good for her, but she’s running out of people to turn to, as seemingly everyone in her life is pressuring her to make an immediate decision about her future. Then her new friend Francesca—an impulsive, smartass co-worker—offers Charlotte salvation in the unlikeliest of places: the fast-paced, super-tough, bump-and-bruise-filled world of roller derby.

Sure, it’s dangerous. Yeah, she could get hurt. But what’s a little physical pain when healing your soul is at stake? The question is: whether she’s on or off the track, will Charlotte be strong enough to stand on her own two feet?

My thoughts
: Charlotte is definitely a mess when we first meet her. Not that you could blame her. If my wife left me after the first few months of marriage only to come back a few days later with no explanation I’d probably leave, too. I would drive myself insane with questions and probably be sent off to an institution. This doesn’t happen to her, sure Charlotte is depressed and doesn’t know what to with herself in the beginning, but she manages to get through each day. Barely.

One way Charlotte helps herself out is by having a personal narrator. In her head it is the comforting voice of John Goodman, yes the actor, that helps her through the day. This is not a bad idea. We all have that voice in our head as we are thinking about our day and the tasks that need to be done throughout the day. Sure, usually it is our own voice, but if you’re not very happy with yourself and your life, maybe having a comforting voice do the talking might help you through the day. It would be like having a guardian angel of sorts.

In a way, Charlotte’s new friend, Francesca, becomes her guardian angel, or maybe better, a guiding angel. Francesca is the person who pulls Charlotte out of the haze of self-doubt and depression, by getting Charlotte to do “Go Outside.” To do things that she normally wouldn’t do but, ultimately, she is the one who introduces Charlotte to roller derby. So, does everything immediately get better when she joins roller derby? Of course, not. Have you seen roller derby? They fall and get hurt a lot. Just like life. That’s not something that helps with self-confidence issues. But, over time, her confidence grows in roller derby and with her life.

Did I like this book? In short, yes. It was funny, depressing, and had some good roller derby action, what’s not to like? Would I have read this if it was written by someone else whose blog I haven’t read for a long time? Probably not. I know. It doesn’t make me look good. But, I’m a guy, we always do stupid things.

Rating: 4 derby skates out of 5

*A note from me: I am an Amazon Associate. Book links in this post are provided by and will generate a small referral fee for me if used for purchases.

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