Verdict: Bravo to Laurel Osterkamp for yet another chick-lit title that charms the reader, and leaves us rooting for Lucy and Monty as if they were friends of our own.
November Surprise revisits characters Lucy, Jack and Monty; who we first met in Osterkamp’s charming novella Campaign Promises.
With a penchant for politics and less self-confidence than awkwardness, Lucy grows up insecure. She knows at an early age that she is interested in politics, as she displays by hanging a poster of Robert Kennedy in her locker in junior high. It isn’t that Lucy isn’t loveable, because her middle school originality is immediately charming. But kids that age just doesn’t seem to understand her.
Bullied by Reggie Hanson since third grade, Lucy cringes down the hall as she anticipates a passing bra strap snap, or perhaps a public insult. In high school, she is experiencing a moment of such torment when Monty Bricker first comes to her rescue. Grateful and beginning to swoon, Lucy thanks Monty for diverting Reggie during the first of many exchanges with Monty that will leave her wondering “what if.”
Monty’s brother Jack is Lucy’s best friend. Though they dated in high school, they remained friends and Lucy and Jack have the kind of relationship that most girls wish they could really have with an ex. Jack will always be the first person to see Lucy for who she really is. He loves her despite her awkwardness and political obsessions. These two are friends till the end of time no matter how many bumps in the road.
As we follow Lucy on her journey through high school, college and figuring out what to do with her life in her thirties, we see a side of her we didn’t fully meet in Campaign Promises. She and Monty both have outward appearances that are very different from their inner selves. Their characters of nerdy girl and prom king are written seamlessly, and make a startling contrast when thrown together. They are so different in the eyes of others, but quite similar in their hearts. How could they not fall for each other!
Osterkamp crafts her protagonists with the utmost understanding of how it feels to be the outcast girl trying to get ahead. She also gives us a popular male character (Monty) who we don’t dislike at all and eventually fall for when we get a glimpse of his inner beauty. Chronicled in terms of presidential elections, November Surprise is fluid and entertaining. Without being overly complex, this book warms the reader’s heart with a love story spanning twenty years and finally working out as it should. Lucy is a gem!
Well developed and spotlessly executed, November Surprise lets the reader know it’s good to be yourself and eventually (even though unplanned and scary) the world will right itself around us, just like it does as life’s complexities encircle Lucy. Bravo to Laurel Osterkamp for yet another chick-lit title that charms the reader, and leaves us rooting for Lucy and Monty as if they were friends of our own.
Reviewed by Keri English for Indie Reader