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This Wallflower takes aim at the “Stars”

Popular chick-lit author uses TV show as premise

By Beverly Meyer

DIPPING into Claire Cook’s latest— “Wallflower in Bloom”—doesn’t seem too different from the  pleasant but fleeting enjoyment one gets consuming a tasty double-scoop ice cream cone.

Neither has much long-range value, but the experience is certainly fun.

As with other Cook novels, the protagonist is a 30-something who’s wriggling uncomfortably against the confines of her current job, lifestyle, family or friends.

Here, Deirdre Griffin has just about had it in her role  as personal assistant (read: gofer/slave/lackey) to her famous older  brother, Tag, an inspirational speaker and spouter of truisms who’s described as “Deepak Chopra meets Bono.”

His specialty is the “chiasmus,” a pert saying whereby the second half  is balanced against the first, but with the parts reversed.  “Let go of the past and go let the future in” or “Practice what you preach, and remember that preaching takes practice” are two examples of the chiasmi that lead into each chapter of Cook’s book.  As the chapters evolve, the chiasmi become more silly and forced, perhaps symbolizing how Tag’s message is hollow and his money-making empire and huge fan base are dependent on Deirdre’s keeping his image intact.

Over time, Deirdre has let her own life be absorbed by the demands of Tag’s nationwide shows, TV appearances, products and overall brand. One weekend, events conspire to break the proverbial camel’s back, and in a fit of drunken delirium, Deirdre signs on to participate in the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars,” leveraging her status  as Tag’s sister and business manager to land the gig.

What follows is Deirdre’s journey through the (somewhat comical) darkness of self-hatred (did she really eat all six of those Ring Dings last night?), self-evaluation (Steve Moretti probably wants to date her just to get an inside angle on a business deal with Tag, right?), and self-reflection (her family thinks of her as a wallflower and she’s played along, so whose fault is that, really?).

Cook has written this story  loaded with  laugh-out-loud humor. As Deirdre begins her training with her professional partner on the show, this reader couldn’t help chuckling at the description of Deirdre’s first foray in the practice room.

There’s no heavy lifting in this book, but the humor infused throughout “Wallflower in Bloom” moves this one into first place among Claire Cook’s light novels. It’s light reading, perfect for the beach bag.

Beverly Meyer is a copy editor  at The Free Lance–Star.


By Claire Cook

(Touchstone, $24.99, 260 pp.)


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