Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review: Finders Keepers by Karin Kallmaker

Finders Keepers by
Karin Kallmaker
Finders Keepers by Karin Kallmaker is named after the very successful, geeky, dating service run by Marissa and a friend. Like Night Vision, I initially had trouble getting into this book - even putting it down a few times in boredom, but it did pick up a bit.

A romance between two very different women - the very ordinary Marissa and the very unique Linda - Finders Keepers has two main themes: image and finding your perfect match. If you like slightly gossipy, real life-ish stories that you can identify with - or if you're looking for a book full of issues to discuss - then you'll want to take a look at Finders Keepers.

Meeting by chance when they have to suddenly abandon their cruise ship, Linda and Marissa fall into each others arms and enjoy a passionate tropical island holiday. Marissa returns home to her job and her normal life, while Linda... vanishes for a whole year, before turning up on Marissa's doorstep and they tentatively throw themselves at each other again.

This year is spent fixing up the problems in each character's life - Marissa comes out to her rather terrifyingly proper mother, keeps her successful dating service 'Finders Keepers' going, and tries to learn how not to be the 'helpless fat chick'.

Linda is a child beauty pageant survivor,  abused by her mother all through her childhood, emotionally damaged and extremely sensitive about her looks. Some of this shows at the start - I actually thought she might be transgender, initially! (The discomfort discussing her childhood, mention of surgery, her 'strong shoulders' and physique...).

Linda is pretty damn sure that Marissa is the one for her. Marissa isn't so sure, and spends time trying to move on. The matchmaking service is steady running thread throughout the book - Marissa thinks in terms of the compatibility measures, whether it actually applies to her and Linda, and of course, she turns up there for work.

Both characters have major image problems. Marissa is overweight and selfconscious, and much of the book is spent following her around through various weight loss programs, and exercise regimes. She 'learns' most of the fads don't work and eventually 'fixes' herself, of course. While a lot of women will identify with Marissa's issues, they can also be a bit boring, especially as they take up so much of the book.

Linda's issues are a lot more dramatic, but we don't see as much of her. Some therapy, lawyers, the decisions to fix up her life to be 'good enough' for Marissa... just enough to tell us what's going on at her end. Her childhood, and her mother, left her with major issues about her appearance - one reason she is so attracted to Marissa is because the first word that comes to her mind is 'strong' not 'beautiful'.

Not outstanding, but a decent read - especially if you like reading about other people's body image and insecurity!

Karin Kallmaker was an Alice B Readers award winner in 2004.

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