By Amy Poeppel
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this excellent book on Audible. The reader, Carly Robbins, was perfection and I can’t imagine how the personalities could be better portrayed on the page as they were by this actress. She particularly nails the narration of Allison, our estimable heroine, the sulky brattiness of Charlotte, one of her daughters, her wise and very active mother, and our other main character, L’Enfant terrible Carter Reid.
Allison Brinkley is a teacher and married mother of 3 precocious children who is excited to move her family to New York City when her perfectly wonderful attorney husband gets a big promotion. They are leaving Dallas Texas to live the dream in the city that never sleeps! The Culture! The Opportunities! The Restaurants! The Excitement! The Shopping! The Charming Brownstone on the Upper West Side! Cue the rude sound of the needle scratching a vinyl record. Does the reality match the fantasy? Of course not.
Her teaching job(s) fizzle, she misses her dynamo of a mother, the kids are not adjusting well, the schools leave a lot to be desired, the other moms are cliquish and snobby, etc., etc. And trade in that brownstone in a leafy neighborhood for a too-small apartment in a modern high-rise somewhere in Manhattan not near Central Park.
But somehow things start to look up when, through a series of unlikely events, she becomes the Personal Assistant to Carter Reid, a Justin Bieberesque super pop star. Allison is cheerful, nurturing, patient, responsible, intelligent, hardworking, and chock-full of integrity. Carter has never experienced anyone like her. And vice versa. Carter is a rude, ignorant, lazy, hedonistic degenerate with the manners of a feral child. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but just a little. How it turns into a match made in heaven makes for a very entertaining journey. It is by turns frustrating, hopeful, a little scary, funny, and heartwarming. It is one step forward and one step, sometimes two steps, back as Allison assumes responsibility for whipping Carter into shape for the Broadway debut he is bound and determined not to do the work for. But Carter’s whole future is on the line, and though Allison is determined not to fail, it is not until she enlists the help of her teenage daughter Charlotte that we see there just might be some small possibility of saving Carter from himself.
As much as this book is centered around the development of Allison’s relationship with Carter, it is also about her whole family and their adjustment to the city, work, school, and creating a new social circle. By the end of the novel, they are all New Yorkers, even though super smart Charlotte will be moving to the West Coast to attend Cal Tech. And although no, (spoiler alert) Carter does not win a Tony award and thank Allison during his nationally televised acceptance speech in front of the glitterati of Broadway for saving his career, it ends pretty well for him too.