Review

Looking for Mr. Goodfrog

by Laurie Graff



I leapt into the story of LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG from the very
first italicized "Frog anecdote" --- With such a wide variety of
frogs it's safe to assume that out there, somewhere, is a frog with
just about any pattern you could imagine.
With this line I
jumped, quite literally, into Karrie Kline's marsh of frogs,
tadpoles and potential princes. You see, each chapter in Laurie
Graff's novel is punctuated by similarly quirky anecdotes that
describe the habits of frogs, and each quote sets the tone and
prefaces the themes of the upcoming chapter. This first quote works
nicely both in that capacity and also as a foreshadowing of the
book's tone --- smart, ironic, wry with just a touch of romantic
optimism.

These same adjectives, and a touch of fairy tale optimism,
perfectly describe Karrie Kline herself --- the charming, keenly
observed heroine of both LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG and Graff's
previous work, YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS. Karrie kisses many
a frog hoping to discover her prince, and each time she finds
herself up against some pretty daunting character flaws. Whether
it's the criminally attractive non-caller who charms but never
follows through, the man who only communicates between the sheets,
or the neurotic health nut who brings his own muffin to Starbucks,
Karrie has seen it all. Even if there is a frog out there whose
spots match hers, she's starting to think that she'll never find
him.

However, Karrie is not one to wallow, nor is she a complainer. She
may be something of a kvetcher, but that makes her all the
more charming a narrator; she's relatable, flawed, and never boring
or self-indulgently dramatic. Everything she does, from swing
dancing to scooping her friend's mozzarella onto her pizza, is
engaging and distinctive. Graff has the lovely (and rare) ability
to unveil Karrie's persona without ever having Karrie make any
self-revealing exclamations. Never do readers have to endure Karrie
making trite declarations of her own adventurous nature, her wit,
or her love of dogs. Instead we see these aspects of her
immediately in Graff's well-rendered scenes of Karrie alone, on
dates, and with her equally charismatic and compelling group of
friends. Making Karrie likable and relatable suits Graff's literary
purposes --- we stand on the sidelines cheering for Karrie, through
her trials and tribulations with online dating and her excruciating
run-in with her high school boyfriend in yellow tights. We want her
to find a frog worthy of becoming her prince.

When Karrie decides to put to good use all those awkward first
dates, hope-dashing second dates and "I can't take this anymore"
third dates (not to mention the disillusioning and maddening
relationships that follow) by using them as fodder for a one-woman
show, readers will find themselves wishing they could buy tickets.
The show takes off, and we are right there with Karrie at her first
photo shoot. Just as readers will relate to Karrie's dating
foibles, mishaps and calamities, they also will be drawn into her
bringing those experiences to the stage. It is to Graff's credit as
a writer that she is able to paint Karrie's dual performances ---
both in life (on dates and with her friends) and on stage --- with
equally strong strokes. There is something brave and cathartic in
Karrie's decision to perform, and Graff --- an actress herself ---
excels at describing the one-woman renegade that is Karrie's play,
"Forgaphobia." Readers who have never picked up a script or stood
in a black-box theater will relate to Karrie's anxiety and ultimate
triumph with the same gusto with which they related to her dating
woes.

LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG is peppered with keen insights into the
strange rituals and maddening games women and men play as they
dance around each other, hoping to spark. "We were not looking for
a bonafide prince," Karrie muses of her and her vivacious friend
Anne. "Just our very own good frog. So where did it all go astray?
What were you supposed to do with the encounters and the dates, the
liaisons and the relationships? Where did they all go? And if they
didn't go anywhere, where were you supposed to put them?" Smart and
insightful, LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG elevates the Chick Lit genre
to a level above Manolos, money and men with themes that are
utterly relatable, presented by a narrator who is perfectly
engaging.

Like its heroine, LOOKING FOR MR. GOODFROG is witty, incisive and
touchingly real. In the end, readers will feel the pain of Karrie's
various disappointments, be thrilled by her triumphs and take heart
in her unbreakable optimism that maybe --- just maybe --- out there
somewhere, our very own frog prince is hopping about, waiting
patiently for us to find him.

Reviewed by Jennifer Krieger on January 11, 2011

Looking for Mr. Goodfrog
by Laurie Graff

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2006
  • Genres: Chick Lit, Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Red Dress Ink
  • ISBN-10: 0373895739
  • ISBN-13: 9780373895731