It’s been a difficult year for Marta Zinsser and her 11-year-old daughter, Eva. Marta relocated with Eva from New York City back to the Seattle neighborhood where she grew up (and couldn’t wait to flee from), mainly because Marta’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s. There was also an old boyfriend who Marta wouldn’t mind being away from. But settling in is proving to be harder than both Zinsser women anticipated. Eva yearns to be part of the popular crowd in her middle school and bemoans the fact that Marta is not like the other mothers. Other moms don’t wear ripped jeans, go without makeup and ride a Harley. Other moms look impeccable, wear perfectly applied makeup and revel in the numerous committees their kids’ school spits forth. Eva so wants to belong, and Marta thinks if she tones down her own distinctive personality, things might go easier for her daughter.
“Toning it down” was the last thing Marta would have considered back in her Tribeca neighborhood a year earlier. She loved her fast-paced life as an advertising executive and single mother to her daughter. Too bad her professional success didn’t trickle over into her private life. After a painful breakup with a married boyfriend, Marta decides that although love might not be in the cards, why should she give up her dream of being a mother? One artificial insemination later, she’s the proud parent to a baby girl, who she happily raises amid the hustle and bustle of New York City. But when Marta’s mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she decides that a move back to Seattle is needed and accepts a position out west.
Shortly after beginning the new job, she realizes that being her own boss would suit her rebellious personality far better and starts her own advertising firm. She sets up shop with a small affable staff in the carriage house behind her own: a perfect solution for a working mother. But now, her sweet daughter reads wedding magazines obsessively and dreams of hanging with the popular kids. As much as Marta stresses the joy of being your own person to her daughter, it falls on deaf ears. Eva wants to be like all her peers --- and desperately wishes that Marta could be like all the other moms.
Much to her chagrin, Marta tries to assimilate, for Eva’s sake. But trying to run a successful company, organize a birthday sleepover and volunteer at Eva’s school, Marta is left with precious little time for a private life. That is, until she meets Luke, who is tall, handsome, wealthy and (icing on the cake) loves Marta for the quirky soul she is. But after being so horribly hurt before, can she put the past aside and move forward?
ODD MOM OUT is a lively entry into the new “Mommy-lit” lexicon (a subgenre that came after “chick-lit” and “lad-lit”), where the reader can root for (and relate to) the harried working mother, trying to balance work and home. The novel’s pacing is quick and breezy. Like Jane Porter’s previous book, THE FROG PRINCE, it tackles relatable topics: Do you have to surrender your identity to get ahead? And can an overworked, underappreciated, working single mom find love? Readers hope the answers are “no” and “yes,” respectively.
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on January 13, 2011
Odd Mom Out