Review

Multiple Choice

by Claire Cook



MULTIPLE CHOICE is Claire Cook's new novel, following the popular
MUST LOVE DOGS. In MULTIPLE CHOICE, March Monroe, a middle-aged
mother of two teenagers, decides to return to college to get the
degree she abandoned when she met and married her husband,
Jeff.

While Jeff is all for this new adventure, mainly because of the
financial benefits reaped when having two students in college at
the same time, their daughter Olivia is less than thrilled. In
fact, they forget to let Olivia know that her middle-aged mother is
now a freshman at the local community college. Olivia finds this
out by accident when she and her mother both end up as interns at
the local radio station. When Olivia sees her mother walking into
WQBM, she wishes she were invisible. As for March, it's quite an
experience to go back to college and be surrounded by adults young
enough to be her children. It's making March feel ancient. She
decides she won't fit in with most of the student body and finds
friendship with another older college student, a senior citizen
named Etta.

The book is narrated by March and is told from her point of view.
The tone of the book is light and comical, as with all books of
this genre. What comes off as funny is the disparaging points of
view between mother and daughter. While March starts off with
wonderful stories of friendship and companionship between herself
and her only daughter, Olivia's reactions to her mother are
anything but friendly. Olivia is eighteen years old, and the last
thing she wants is to deal with a mother who is trying to fit in
with her college friends. Olivia is so embarrassed that she can't
even talk to her mother. The tension fills the room whenever they
are together, and half the time March pretends that nothing is
wrong between them.

On the other hand, Olivia and dad Jeff get along just fine. March's
frustration is obvious as she watches the two of them getting along
and enjoying a pleasant conversation. March and Olivia do nothing
but fight, if they're communicating at all, and no matter how hard
March tries, there is nothing that will get through to Olivia.
March does not understand why this is happening, when all she can
remember is the Olivia she once knew, the sweet little girl now
turned into a hormonal teenager.

While her relationship with Olivia is on the downturn, March
develops a new relationship with David, the producer of "Karyn's
Karmic Korner," a new-age radio show that airs on WQBM every
afternoon. He's a breath of fresh air, is close to March's age, and
is also kind of cute. March and Olivia help out with the radio show
by being "faces" in the audience to act as call-in guests. March
doesn't score any points by being friends with David, and Olivia is
shocked that they are on a first-name basis. March isn't even sure
where this relationship is heading, and she and David flirt mildly
with each other, every time they meet.

When Rhonda, "Karyn" of "Karyn's Karmic Korner," decides it's time
to call it quits, David thinks up a great new talk show, based on
the tension-filled interactions between March and Olivia. Here was
an opportunity for the two of them to form a bond and renew their
mother-daughter relationship. March and Olivia are quite excited
about this idea, but it doesn't turn out exactly as they had
hoped.

A funny side-plot involves March's business, which takes on clients
to help with their "directionality." Her last client, "Ahndrayuh"
(Andrea), is having a hard time letting go, and March realizes she
has become no more than a babysitter for this dreaded client.

MULTIPLE CHOICE is one funny scene after another. It's a light
summer book, bringing a smile to anyone who reads it. Granted,
although the main plot involves the relationship between mother and
daughter, the book is really geared towards the 40-something crowd
who may be able to relate to their own family crisis, such as
teenage angst and rebellion towards the baby boomer crowd. It's not
a deep story, but it does make light of these typical family
relationships and is just one more wonderful book for the summer of
2004.

Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton (Ratmammy@lofton.org) on January 24, 2011

Multiple Choice
by Claire Cook

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0670033308
  • ISBN-13: 9780670033300