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Friday, April 10, 2009

Do the Math by Jocelyn Saint James

Do the Math by Jocelyn Saint James
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (264 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Middle age is anything but boring for Christie Myers, high school math teacher. Suddenly alone and pregnant with her ex-husband's baby, she finds herself caretaker to her ornery mother-in-law and mentor to a streetwise teen. With her job on the line and life sinking lower than ever, she's introduced to traveling musician Greg O'Connell, who agrees to pose as her husband in exchange for a place to stay. He never imagined that renting a room would change the course of his life and connect him with the past. The arrangement leaves Christie and Greg both understanding that music and math can be a wonderful combination.

Jocelyn Saint James’ new work, Do the Math, is every bit as clever as the title suggests.

Christie Meyers take on reality starts off pretty negative, even if she is at a party. This whole work is something of emotional ‘chiller.’ We join Christie Meyers already struggling with an impending divorce. It’s a stiff, business-like affair on the face of it, though an emotional downer for Christie; and something of the classic, ‘left for younger woman’ event.

A teacher in a Catholic High School for girls, Christie’s in the midst of the ‘debacle’ of this relationship when she meets Greg, in her best friend’s kitchen. Thoughtful, (and handsome of course!) Greg seems too good to be true… and with everything else on her mind, Christie doesn’t give much thought to him, beyond enjoying their brief chat. However, Greg becomes the one rock in her life of turmoil (from morning sickness to the brief re-visits from Phil, who really, we all just want to move past and forget…)

Do the Math is plausible, but with a less than admirable main character. Christie seems unhappily un-self reliant. It would be an un-admirable trait in someone half her age, and sadly, although she does have numerous super qualities, (and so does this story as a whole,) my own impatience with the main character rather overshadowed all. Her moments of joy are just too few and far between.

The writing style is imminently readable, the background unobtrusive, friend Sarah and others are believably multifaceted; Greg is delicious, several students, especially Lainie, give true depth to Christie’s life. However, the star character honestly is the ex-mother-in-law Margaret, who’s snappy opinion and stern backbone make her exceptionally worthy of memory. If Margaret had been the main character, there would have been more sparks than tears!

This work will provoke emotions – good and bad – in any reader. It’s a work that looks at a dark side, but perhaps, takes overlong to locate joy.