Mean Season

by Heather Cochran

Our culture is so celebrity-driven. Television, print and radio are
filled with celebrity interviews with chatter so loud that it's
completely consuming. Our worship of sports, film and music stars
borders on the obscene. Thus, when a book like MEAN SEASON comes
along with a fresh look at the toll and role of stardom, it's very

The story takes place in Pinecob, West Virginia, the hometown of
Leanne Gitlin. Leanne is the fan club president for an
up-and-coming star, Joshua Reed. She has her head square on her
shoulders and approaches this like a job instead of acting like a
swooning fan. She knows all things Joshua, and for a girl stuck in
a small town she has a lot of savvy and moxie about what does ---
and does not --- make sense related to being a star.

While Leanne longs to leave Pinecob and disdains being there, a
family crisis and loyalty to her mom has her rooted there for the
moment doing her duty to the family.

Joshua, in typical teen idol bad boy fashion, lands a drunk driving
conviction when he hits a cow on a dark country road. His sentence
since this is not his first conviction: jail time. Leanne arranges
for Joshua do his time at her house under house arrest instead of
in the local jail. Seeing her home and world through Joshua's eyes
has Leanne defensive on the things that she thinks matter and
cringing at others. Joshua flips at the idea that there is no
cable, satellite dish or any other of his expected creature
comforts. Instead he is left in a place that time seems to have
left behind.

Adjustments are made on all sides, thus keeping this from feeling
like an episode in the New Beverly Hillbillies. Yes, people in town
are intrigued by Joshua and his presence, but Leanne's tough stand
with him keeps things on the straight and narrow. Instead of
carousing, Joshua instead learns more about Leanne's world while
she sees the shallowness of what his is. Instead of wanting Joshua
to stay, Leanne counts the days until he leaves.

Subplots revolve around her mom's romance with the local judge,
Leanne's younger brother (a town sports hero who was injured in an
accident) and an older brother who mysteriously disappeared.
There's also the boy at the local supermarket who, like Leanne,
never left town and for whom her attraction is very real. Their
misattempts at romance are as important to the pacing of the book
as the rest of the story. What Leanne misses enhances what she
longs for.

The plotting is quick and the story is fresh. It's smart and well
written. While I was reading MEAN SEASON I was very busy with a
number of projects. That said, I so looked forward to reading this
book that I found myself waking early in the morning and staying up
a bit later to get some more pages read. For the record, I can see
a movie being made from this. On the flip side, the characters were
so real that you do wonder what happened to them next.

One note: don't let the cover turn you off. To me, this could have
been better. It's as cold as the book is warm. I know it's tough to
do covers when a book is about this much emotion and feeling, and
to me this one just does not hit the mark.

Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald on January 7, 2011

Mean Season
by Heather Cochran

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Red Dress Ink
  • ISBN-10: 037325069X
  • ISBN-13: 9780373250691