As someone who spent most of the 90's in a Philadelphia suburb, I really wanted to love this book. I didn't love it, but I liked it. I felt it was a pretty realistic portrayal of life in the early to mid-nineties, though I did find myself occasionally thinking things like, "Would she have really been able to afford to have a DVD player then?" Or," why would the "poor" girl have a cell phone?" Though dates are never officially mentioned, the fact that Kurt Cobain's suicide occurs at the end of the book (I promise that's not a spoiler) places the book squarely in the fall of 1993 through the spring of 1994. Such anachronisms can be forgiven though as the rest of the book puts you squarely during the time of early grunge and pop punk.
There were times when Broad Street felt like any other "chick lit" (of course the heroine's day job is in the publishing industry, I can't think of many in the genre who aren't) but then a scene shows up that veers you right out of the genre. (Other than good old Bridget Jones, I can't think of another chick lit heroine who does mushrooms.) Of course Kit, our narrator, makes the requisite horrendous choices (I mean really horrendous!) when it comes to men, work and life. What's beautiful is that everything isn't tied up in a little bow at the end. Certainly Kit grows and comes to know herself better, but like life, there's always more to learn.
That's the story itself, a few quick notes in regard to the copy. This was not an uncorrected proof as far as I could see. Nowhere were those words printed on the cover and the ISBN and bar code were clearly visible on the back, so the number of typos and grammatical errors was inexcusable (the author used to be a proofreader for goodness sake!) and the prose felt clumpy and stunted at times. However, this was the first time out for both the author and publisher. I'm hoping that this will be the first of more to come from this promising writer.
OVER A CARDBOARD SEA by Khanh Ha
3 weeks ago