Thursday, June 23, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on June 23, 2011
Written by Shauna Thomas, Librarian 

Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee

First off, be grateful. I was going to review a different book altogether. One called The Information, by James Gleick - all about the history of information and its technologies, and how they've shaped us. The plan was to scribble up something along the lines of how it sounds like a book only a librarian could love, but really any nonfiction lover with an interest in media theory should give it a whirl, because it's terribly witty and comprehensive. For the record? You should read that book, too.

Not precisely beach reading, though, is it? And fair enough. I was having the same thought when I picked up Cavanaugh Lee's first offering, Save as Draft, as my cuddle book (The Information hardly being the book you take to bed to sing you to sleep, after all. You'd have some mighty weird dreams). So why was Save as Draft so beguiling as to tempt me to change books for this week's review?

This book feels naughty. An information-age update to the epistolary novel format (written in diary entries and letters), Save as Draft is composed entirely of texts, tweets, status updates, emails and eHarmony messages. If that sounds to you like a recipe for poor character development and a one-sided narrative, you'd be wrong, and I was wrong with you. Lee has a gift for bringing out the voices of her characters through their digital trails. Maybe more importantly, she has a talent for capturing the juicy drama from all angles without giving you the feeling you're reading an expository tweet.

You spend the entire novel feeling like you've picked up a forgotten laptop at a coffee shop - you start poking around to find out to whom it should be returned (honest!), except her email is really juicy and you can't stop reading through it until you find out what happens. Here is what happens (minus spoilers, of course):

Whip-smart, sarcastic, and cheerfully idealistic, recent law school grad Izabell Chin lands a job at an Atlanta law firm. She's been lucky enough to settle near Peter and Elizabeth, close friends from school. But Peter's so close he's practically a girlfriend, and Elizabeth is married; Izzy's chances of finding love with this crew are painfully slim. So, she and a farther-flung school friend take up online dating to expedite the process, taking care to document the particularly hilarious matches and unsolicited creepy messages by cc-ing and bcc-ing each other into the action.

Before long, Izzy meets Marty. He's well-off, stable, charming, has a great relationship with his mother, and he's wild for Izzy. But just when things heat up, Izzy's best friend Peter finally makes a move. Who should Izzy choose? Obviously, the choice is Peter. They're best friends! Srsly. Except, love is seldom so simple. Before long, some entertaining and extensive Victoria's Secret retail therapy receipts crop up in Izzy's inbox, alongside sweet messages from Marty. What does Izzy do? Well, some really entertaining drunk texting, for starters (I snorted in public trying not to laugh). For the rest, you'll need to pick up the book. Save as Draft is the perfect beach blanket confection – a naughty-bad-fun, one-day read you'll miss when it's over.

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