As in their previous books, Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella are still figuring out how to stay close emotionally now that Francesca calls a small apartment in the Big Apple home, and Lisa resides rurally near Philadelphia with her ever-growing menagerie of pets that most definitely are in charge. Lisa's mother, Mother Mary, lives in South Florida with her son. She is an important part of the female trio who, along with Brother Frank, make up this lovable Italian family.
While packing to move three blocks, Francesca wraps each dish individually in paper, covers the stack of individually-wrapped dishes with more paper, and then cocoons those stacks of double-wrapped dishes in more paper in the cardboard box. Lisa's motto must be "get 'er done" as is evident in her box of dishes naked in their moving box. Lisa paints around pictures in her house rather than removing them and later lining them up in perfect symmetry like Francesca would do. You can see why they often discuss, occasionally argue, and even resort to yelling once in a while before they hug and make up. Their generational approach is different and certainly to be expected.
"MEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM is best read a little at a time because it allows readers to thoroughly absorb the wit and wisdom in each essay. Soon enough you will be awaiting publication of the next book by this talented and delightful mother-daughter writing team."
When Lisa visits Francesca in the big city one August night, Lisa insists that Francesca bring a coat along on their evening out. Francesca nixes the idea, so Lisa schlepps around with the coat all evening, only to leave it behind in a cab. Poetic justice? Maybe, but this essay has a surprise ending.
Francesca advises her readers not to name the home-grown mushrooms that sprout up in their composty bed of coffee grounds. After all, it is very difficult to eat something once you have given it a name. Mother Mary finds it almost impossible to be hands-off when she is teaching her daughter and granddaughter how to make eggplant parmesan. Lisa likes to cook her spaghetti al dente, but Mother Mary overcooks her pasta nearly into mush, according to Lisa. Even grocery shopping can be fraught with difficulties. Mother Mary rejects deli chicken salad that is "too busy" and vetoes the bean salad that contains no pinto beans.
At age 25, Francesca has her first encounter with an illegal "substance" and discovers that the aftermath of a delicious pot brownie is nausea and regret. She learns how hard it is to get door-to-door delivery service in a large city, and lets her anger fly as she yells at the neighborhood flasher who she dubs the Repeat Offender. She is quickly learning how to survive alone in the big city, though Lisa still worries about her.
The book contains serious essays, too. One such piece is about their dear elderly friend and next-door neighbor, Harry the Hermit, who they lose shortly before Thanksgiving. Harry leaves behind Spunky, a 14-year-old cat who, sadly, is a walking vet bill. Now Spunky needs a new home. Who will adopt an aging cat? There is a heartfelt tribute by Francesca about 9/11, its victims, survivors and family members. Francesca was a high school sophomore in Pennsylvania when the terrorist attacks occurred, and she shares how her view of the world was affected by that horrific event.
MEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM is best read a little at a time because it allows readers to thoroughly absorb the wit and wisdom in each essay. Soon enough you will be awaiting publication of the next book by this talented and delightful mother-daughter writing team.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on November 16, 2012