Flirting in Cars Paperback – Aug 7 2007
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"Flirting in Cars is a modern-day fairy tale about finding happily-ever-after where you least expect it. I couldn't put it down."
-- Karen Quinn, author of The Ivy Chronicles and Wife in the Fast Lane
"This exciting tease of a novel will set your heart pounding like the best love affair. Smart, funny, sexy -- I loved it!"
-- Pamela Redmond Satran, author of The Man I Should Have Married and Suburbanistas
"Alisa Kwitney's cross-cultural love story is intelligent, funny, and sexy."
-- Thelma Adams, Us Weekly
About the Author
Alisa Kwitney is the author of On the Couch, Does She or Doesn't She?, The Dominant Blonde, Till the Fat Lady Sings, and the forthcoming Flirting in Cars. Her books have been translated into Russian, German, and Japanese. A former comic book editor with DC Comics/Vertigo, Kwitney holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University. She lives with her family in the Hudson River Valley and New York City. Visit her website at www.alisakwitney.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Kwitney first three novels were more comical and sensuous and with her second more serious novel, she proves that she can handle both genres. While the subject matter is more serious, she gives Zoe a sense of humor that emerges through her vulnerability, making her a more human character. In addition to dealing with Maya's dyslexia, she also has to contend with the disintegration of her own relationship with her parents who disowned her when she had a baby out of wedlock, taking on a local politician who has sold out his constituents, forging new friendships, as well as facing her own fears and phobias. I found the story to be sensual and heartwarming at the same time, relishing the relationship between mother and daughter as they both grow so much in a town they didn't realize would have such an effect on them.
© Tracy Vest, September 2008
First and foremost the book focuses on the relationship of Zoe Goren and her daughter Maya. Because that is the reason Zoe is ripped from her favorite place of all time--the city. She's a single mom looking out for her daughter (and her daughter's education with dyslexia) so they head from middle of the city, to smack dab into the country. But not without some difficulty. And when I say difficulty, culture shock is only half of it. Zoe can't drive. Oh and wild animals? Yeah, not so friendly when they are in your house. Even if you do have a cat around.
This book delivered a lot of punch for its 323 pages. I fell in love with Zoe. Her honesty, bluntness, and to-hell-with-you attitude (listen, this woman? Yeah, she knows what she wants and goes after it. No excuses made). And her daughter Maya. Well, I think every woman can identify with her self-confidence issues. I mean who likes to be 13 and not fit in? No one. Then suddenly you find yourself fitting in somewhere... well it can only be called sweetness. And this is where the book thrives. Mother/daughter relationships. Parenting, and how we make some tough choices sometimes, that can hinder dreams and hopes we thought we had. It's all there, wrapped in this great relationship of a hard-working, dedicated mom and her daughter (I can only hope for so much with my daughter).
But I am forgetting something. The whole Out-of-City aspect of the book! Hey, I did the opposite. I moved from the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan and landed myself in Chicago. Sure it was the 'Burbs, but for anyone that has done that little conversion. It's city. It took me 2 years to feel comfortable roaming the skyscraper, cement clad streets on my own. Now, I'm sad to not be in the concrete regularly. Kwitney also does a good job at creating the isolation that one feels by feeling like an outsider in a small (or big) town. Everything is so unfamiliar--foreign even. And coming from a small town, her whole feelings of being the outsider? Not such a stretch. I feel like that when I go home now. Once you leave the rural... well, it's hard going back. And Zoe had never been there (or wanted to go there) in the first place.
Oh--but does she have a surprise in store for her. First there is Mack (he's the romantic interest). Then there is Frances and Gretchen--also transplanted city folk--that, well, help Zoe's isolation issues. And of course a slew of other characters. They keep the country interesting and sorta sway Zoe away from her beloved city. Or at least as much as they can.
And this might be my only complaint with the book. The transition. It takes a BUNCH longer than a year to realize the country/city can work for anyone, you just need to find your place. Hell, it's taken me 10 years to finally find the common ground that works from me (I am 40 minutes from the city. And that is just fine by me). Less than a year and Zoe's completely happy with her beginning driver status, found Mack, and well given her career a face lift? A little like a sitcom. At least in novel form.
But please, don't let that deter you. The characters here are fun, playful, and definitely what keep you reading. The alternating points of view of Zoe and Mack are fun. Sexy. Hot. And well... just read the book. Let's just say, the sex is good (oops, sorry, a bit of a spoiler there). And the relationships all around are believable and definitely make for a wonderfully witty adventure that will make you beg to see where these characters DO land in about 5 years. I mean does Zoe land in the country forever?
Zoe eventually agrees to take driving lessons from sexy Mack, even though she still has her misgivings about the process. Once they start flirting, then dating, both of them have to deal with their own stereotypes and intimacy issues, along with expectations for the future. Kwitney paints Mack equally as well as someone in conflict between how he's thought of by those around him, and who he is and aspires to be, as a man torn between the world he left in Iraq and his home. Zoe opens up new intellectual worlds to him, but also reminds him that they are very different and wonders whether they can bridge the gap. An environmental issue in the town draws them and their neighbors into action, while they both get to know each other and spar with each other. There are misunderstandings but also plenty of tender moments, and Zoe has to learn to let go of some of her rigid worldviews, especially about what the country offers versus the city. Mack also has to adjust, even as he feels at odds with those around him who he's known his whole life, fenced in by the changes inside him.
There were a few story lines I'd have liked to hear more about; Mack's friend in Iraq who died and their closeness, and Zoe's estrangement from her family. All in all, though, Kwitney again does a fabulous job of imbuing her characters with chutzpah, warmth, and complexity. There's a family argument that's delightful if only to watch the curmudgeonly brother-in-law make a fool of himself. And Zoe's tenderness toward her daughter and her and Mack's sense of family, along with each of them realizing that their relationship is about a lot more than sex, make this book a delight. Charming, funny, sexy, and heartwarming all in one. I was originally intrigued by the story line because I myself live in Manhattan and haven't driven in many, many years after a car accident, and Kwitney handles that part of the plot quite well, but there's a lot more here than just a woman who's afraid of cars, and she does Zoe and all her fears, as well as her feistiness, justice.
I live in a small village and found the vivid juxtapositions, prejudices, and expectations of urbanites versus upstate country folk particularly interesting and priceless. Yes, and the ensuing romance and sex are delicious too. This is a fun, thoroughly enjoyable read - I couldn't put it down.