This first hardcover novel by Beth Harbison leaves no doubt that she is a practiced writer and a keen observer of the world around her. SHOE ADDICTS ANONYMOUS is a delightful read that would bring the beach into a snowstorm if you don't happen to read it until winter. She deftly introduces each of the main characters in their own vignettes so that the reader can identify them, and with them, as the story progresses. I love it when I don't have to stop and wonder who's who.
These unique and wonderful women are victims of a genetic tendency that causes them to obsess (in this case, over shoes mainly). They are your friends, your relatives and, yes, you yourself. While three of them are floundering in their addiction, Lorna R. --- with $30,000 in credit card debt, a past due electric bill of $800 and her car about to be repossessed --- wisely admits she needs help. The debt-ridden eBay addict takes a proactive position and seeks help from a credit counselor. She also places a blurb on "Greg's List" inviting other women, specifically size 7 1/2 shoe addicts, to join her on Tuesday evenings to swap shoes, stories and secrets.
Various people respond to the ad, including a transvestite who swore he was willing to squeeze his size-11 foot into a 7 1/2 Delman. But in the end there were just four of them --- each with an empty spot in her soul that she tried to fill with all sorts of material things, especially shoes, each ready to make a change that would only be possible with support from those who understood what they were going through. The principles of Alcoholics Anonymous prevail, and group dynamics once again provide help for those who can't help themselves!
SHOE ADDICTS ANONYMOUS is like a road trip that provides as much pleasure as the destination itself. Beth Harbison has a comedic style that appeals to our subtle side. For example, when Lorna is at the bank trying to get her overdraft charges waived, the banker reminds her of the terms to which she agreed. She says, "Stop blaming everything on some stupid terms I agreed to a thousand years ago. You know darn well those papers contain a million words a page in negative ten point Ariel sans readability font." Amen, sister!
Whether you have a closet full of Ferragamos and Miu Muis or simply can't pass by a Famous Footwear without buying a new pair of sneakers, you'll love SHOE ADDICTS ANONYMOUS and be looking forward to Harbison's next book.
Shoe Addicts Anonymous