Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stretch Marks

Author: Kimberly Stuart
Publisher: David C. Cook
September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7814-4892-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Mia is twenty-nine and happily living the modern lifestyle. She’s into tufu, sprouts, and granola, and sensible shoes, and happily living with her boyfriend, Lars. Neither of them wants to marry, as marriage is antiquated.

Mia’s mother, Babs, is a stiletto-wearing Zsa Zsa Gabor type who works on a cruise ship, and supports all the old values. Marriage before living together, things done in the right order. There is considerable tension between Mia and her mother with neither knowing quite how to take the other.

But when Mia starts feeling weird and goes to the doctor, she is horrified to learn that it isn’t just some bug that she has—she’s pregnant. But Mia has a whole cast of characters who try to help—including her mother, Babs. Mia’s sanity is stretched thin. Is there hope that Mia and Babs might be able to get along?

STRETCH MARKS is a funny look at pregnancy through the eyes of a ‘tree hugger.” It almost (not quite, but almost) makes me want to go participate in a yoga class, dye my hair magenta, and pierce my eyebrows before eating tufu and bean sprouts. Mia is a loveable heroine, but I especially adored her best friend, Frankie, and especially her mother Babs. The diary Babs keeps that is partially shared in the Afterwards section of the book is just too cute. I would have loved to have read the whole story—or maybe another book—in Babs’ point of view. She is my type of character.

Kimberly Stuart has a remarkably fresh style of writing, with realistic characters, situations, and settings. There is also plenty of humor involved. STRETCH MARKS is a great story about relationships between mothers and daughters, grace, and the importance of a good grocer. Some recipes that you may or may not want to try are included at the end of the book. The birth announcement for Mia’s baby is also included. $14.99. 292 pages.

When a Daughter Becomes a Mother,

Can She Learn to Accept Her Own?

In her latest novel, Stretch Marks, author Kimberly Stuart

takes an unflinching look at sex, pregnancy, and divorce

With her trademark irreverent humor and a surprising and satisfying take on romance, popular author Kimberly Stuart beckons readers to a wild ride of weird cravings, swollen feet, and a growing belly in her new book, Stretch Marks (David C Cook, September 2009). In this comic yet poignant novel about mothers and daughters, Stuart bravely tackles the issues of divorce, sex outside of marriage, and single parenthood as granola-eating, sensible shoe–wearing Mia is forced to face her estranged relationship with her mother.

Mia Rathbun is an earth-conscious, yoga-practicing twenty-something living in Chicago. She’s overworked and underpaid as a social worker, she belongs to PETA, and she recycles the tops of pizza boxes. Her boyfriend, Lars, is a free-spirited freelance writer (read: mooch) who disdains the conventions of marriage but is happy to build a life with Mia. That is until Mia becomes pregnant.

Left on her own, Mia just begins to accustom herself to the looming prospect of single parenthood when her mother, Babs, shows up to “help.” Babs is a cruise ship hostess who cannot abide her daughter’s affection for wheatgrass, tofu, and deep breathing. The two have an estranged relationship but are forced to connect as Mia’s belly grows and Babs is faced with the promise of a grandchild.

Mia also has a whole neighborhood of quirky characters who want to help, including her BFF Frankie, a magenta-haired librarian; Silas, the courtly gentleman of indeterminate age who lives downstairs; and Adam, proprietor of the corner grocery store where Mia shops. But it’s Adam—endearing, kind, possessed of a perfect smile and impeccable Persian manners—who ultimately charms Babs and rescues Mia from more than one mother-induced meltdown. Could it be that Mia and Babs might actually be able to get along?

In an authentic but tender novel about family, grace, and the importance of a good grocer, Stretch Marks doesn’t shy away from hard issues and unlikely hope. “Not for the weak of status-quo-heart, Stretch Marks is a relevant story of a daughter who becomes a mother and, in the process, learns to accept her own,” says Stuart. “I wrote this book because I think the characters will resonate with the not-so-average Christian reader and the more-likely-average non-Christian reader who grapples with the craziness of being a girl and then a mother in an unexpected way.”

Stretch Marks by Kimberly Stuart

David C Cook/September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7814-4892-5/softcover/288 pages/$14.99

No cash payments were received for this review. The book was the only compensation received, which I used to write the review and received from the publicist.

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