Recommendation Tuesday: More Like Her by Liza Palmer
Recommendation Tuesday started as a joke and is now an official thing. If you've got a book to recommend on this or any Tuesday, tweet me at @FullShelves and I'll help spread the word.
Y'all know I've gushed quite a bit about Liza Palmer's books, especially last year's marvelous Nowhere But Home. As a result, I was surprised that I haven't written about any of her other novels beyond a vague, "Yo, this is awesome!"
I actually have a hard time picking a favorite of Liza's novels because I like them each for different reasons. More Like Her was actually the last Liza Palmer book I read, despite that I immediately bought her entire backlist after reading Nowhere But Home, and it sicks in my mind because it has one of my favorite final chapters (though, Liza pretty much kicks ass when it comes to last chapters).
That plus the fantastically well-done friendships and stickiness of work relationships makes More Like Her a can't miss novel and tied with Nowhere But Home for my favorite.
Frannie works at a private school, where she works with two friends, Jill, a therapist like Frannie, and Lisa, a science teacher. They all are in awe of the seemingly-perfect new headmistress of the school, Emma, who has the perfect house, perfect husband, even the perfect dog. Frannie is newly dumped by an egomaniac who's a fellow teacher at the school and she can't help but compare her life to that of Emma.
On a faculty night out, Frannie meets Sam, an architect working on a project at the school and the two have a connection.
Then a terrible, tragic thing happens.
That thing, along with a ton of other major plot points that don't happen until late in More Like Her are revealed on the back cover of the book.
I will not be a jerk like the publisher and reveal that to you.
Though the thing is foreshadowed in the prologue, but it's done via a 911 transcript, which is part of the storytelling, which is a different thing entirely.
I will say, however, that I screamed, "OMIGOD DON'T LOOK AT THE BACK OF THAT BOOK!!!" at Laura at the pie restaurant we go to when I saw her start to flip the book over.
I may have made a tiny bit of a scene. Though not as big of scene as Laura yelling at a book in the middle of Powell's awhile back.
Yes, we're a classy, low-key, duo, obviously.
But I digress...
More Like Her is full of authentic emotion, humor and messy realness than worked for me on a number of levels.
And Frannie is probably the main character I found most personally relatable among Liza Palmer's novels.
The friendships in More Like Her center around Frannie's work and this is something I don't think I've encountered written quite this well. For a lot of people, work relationships are a huge part of their lives and the ups and downs and jealousies that come with those sorts of relationships. Jill and Frannie are close friends, but they're also professional rivals, and the negotiation of the stickiness of that relationship is more fascinating than you'd imagine.
I so appreciate that Liza writes female friendships in a way that doesn't fetishize (I wish I could think of a more apt word) female friendships. She includes the crude with the charming, the hurt with the heart, and for me, this feels more authentic than what I usually read.
Like most of Liza's books, there's a dog (the dog stuff just kills me, because, man, dogs can change your life if you let that love into your heart) and like all of her books, there's a good guy too.
And even though much of this story centers around a terrible thing being the catalyst for all of the characters to make changes, to dare to move forward, it's the little moments that shine: Jill's fantastically crude humor, or Frannie's struggle with daring to be the person she's afraid to be.
But! Here is the most important reason why you should read More Like Her.
This book features Justin Timberlake as an important reference point for the story AND the last scene made me cry at 2:00am thanks to a J.T. (yes, that's what the cool kids call him) reference.