Out of Her Hands
Linda Revere is the quintessential controlling, worrying, "Why didn't you call me last night?" mother. She keeps Nick, her 22-year-old son who is living at home while finishing up college, on an incredibly short leash considering his age. Daughter Emma is a bit less of a problem; as a high school senior, she pretty much toes the line out of habit and an understanding that she doesn't have much of a choice. Meanwhile, husband Jerry represents the voice of reason whenever Linda's worrying starts to get out of hand --- which it often does.
Things start to heat up when Nick is spotted around town with a mysterious young woman, a girl named Amber who he's never mentioned to his parents or his sister. Eventually, Nick comes clean with his family. Yes, he has a girlfriend. Yes, that's who he's been with on all those nights when he came home so late --- or didn't come home at all. And no, she's not a Christian. Trouble in the Revere household for sure.
Oh, and Keith, the husband of Linda's best friend, lands a job 2,000 miles away, meaning Linda is about to lose Debbie, her closest confidant.
Add to this all the complications involving Linda's job at Dream Photography at the height of the photo-taking season --- right before Thanksgiving, when all those Christmas card photos need to be taken --- and Linda is fit to be tied. To make matters worse, her recently widowed father-in-law has taken up with a new woman. "Recently widowed," in this case, is 11 months prior; at 75, Ross is having difficulty navigating life without the woman he spent all his adult life with, just as Doris is learning to live without her deceased husband.
Linda, though, must face her first Thanksgiving without her beloved mother-in-law --- and with Doris, her "replacement," and Amber, Nick's totally unacceptable excuse for a girlfriend. (In Linda's defense, Amber's later description of the Revere kitchen as a "culinary Siberia" doesn't do all that much to endear readers to her, and those same readers may even find themselves rooting for Linda at that point.)
Not unexpectedly, and despite Linda's attempts to make the best of a number of awkward and uncomfortable situations, things start to go downhill fast. Anger, hurt and disappointment bubble to the surface and at times erupt into distressing public scenes. Just when Linda thinks things can't get any worse, they do.
What makes OUT OF HER HANDS such a fulfilling read is the way Linda responds to the worst of the many bad situations that plague her life all at once. She rises to the occasion when circumstances are so severe that she simply needs to stop worrying, begin finding solutions to major problems and start turning the reins over to the people who should have held them all along. Also satisfying is the way the story ends --- not in perfection but in the not-so-perfect reality of everyday life.
Fans of DiMaria's previous books will likely find this one to be equally enjoyable, while newcomers to her novels won't be disappointed. Readers of contemporary "Mom Lit" should also find a lot to like here.
Reviewed by Marcia Ford on September 22, 2008