Looking for Love in All the Wrong and Right Places by Judi McMahon

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Judi McMahon
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Looking for Love in All the Wrong and Right Places

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Book review

A BRIEF SYNOPSIS Looking for Love in All the Wrong and Right Places is a novel that takes a spirited look at the lives of four young women who live and love in New York City. How they manage a multitude of character-testing experiences and sail through some rather risqué antics, and how two of them cope with a case of sibling rivalry are major elements in the story. From seeking out the right man to marry, to having married the wrong one, and even to having a same-sex partner, the women live unpredictable lives. Because all of the women in the book, mothers, as well as daughters, have been looking for love and don’t always find what they want, (or sometimes lose what they have,) the book also suggests the dark “Miss Lonelyhearts” side of life. But in the end, there is a happy conclusion -- with the main heroine, Tessa McMullan, walking down the aisle a smarter, more evolved young woman. The story takes place in 2012; three of the women are now in their mid-twenties, while Katy, the CSU Detective, has just turned 32. All of them want to achieve their goals and a successful quality of life. For some this encompasses good relationships and, yes, happy marriages; for others a good career is the best recompense. Why not all of it, why not happy endings? THE BACKGROUND The women were reared in Larchmont, N.Y., a toney upper middle-class Westchester suburb; three of them were high school friends. Two, Katy and Tessa McMullan, are sisters. Tessa graduates from NYU, having majored in drama, while her older sister attends one year and then drops out to pursue a career in law enforcement. Vera Stern, the only one of the women who comes from poor circumstances, is very bright, sails through Barnard College, graduating cum laude, while Angel Manelli, the shyest of the group, remains at home, attending a local community college, and works in her father’s boating business. By 2007, all four have relocated to Manhattan. The main group of women, Tessa, Vera and Angel, meet for bimonthly brunches and share at other times by cell phone. They call themselves “The Bod Squad.” Some of the sub-plots include Tessa learning the hard way that she must be more cautious in whom she dates after she encounters a sociopath – a disturbed young man who was so maltreated by his mother that he really detests women and so when Tessa rejects him (and also accidentally breaks his nose) he is in a demonic rage. He begins to stalk her and eventually hires someone to throw acid in her face so no one can say she’s pretty any longer. After hang-ups and anonymous threats in the mail, Tessa reaches out to her friends. One of them shares Tessa’s concerns with Katy, her very own sister, who is a New York City detective. Katy gets background information on the man and his brother, obtains permission to have a plainclothes detail follow and protect her sister. In the end, the careful surveillance saves Tessa, and of course helps diminish any vestiges of rivalry between the sisters. Another subplot involves Angel Manelli, who is conflicted about family loyalties. She feels guilty when she realizes that her mother, a stay-at-home traditional Italian wife, knows nothing of her husband’s deceitful affairs. Angel finally confronts her father about his extra marital relationships. Her taking a stand eventually leads to her rejecting the overly conservative customs within her traditional Italian family and she begins to deal with her life-long addiction to food. Meanwhile, her mother Lorraine confronts her own uncertainties and faces her long-time unfaithful husband and her future with newfound courage. What Lorraine does provides a fascinating story on its own.

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