Saturday, October 13, 2007

YOU HAD ME AT HALO by Amanda Ashby

Ok, right about now, my male readers are probably hovering their mouse over another link on their feed reader, or perhaps over their "Back" button. But even though you might not want to be caught dead reading this book, you might want to consider getting it for the lady in your life. She might appreciate you a bit more after reading it.

I confess it -- I bought YOU HAD ME AT HALO (USA, Canada, UK) entirely out of curiosity. Why was this published? I thought. How on earth did the author convince a publisher to take this on?

Now I know.

I deliberately didn't want to do an as-I-read-it review of this book because I feared doing the author a disservice by premature observations. I tend to save any critiques that I may have until the final post, but for a while it seemed like I had nothing but critiques. Heaven full of bumbling idiots? Run like a bureaucracy? Making stupid mistakes? And where on earth was God?

Of course, I should have known that nothing was as it seemed.

The beginning is nonsensical and rather goofy, and I covered it here. In fact, the novel's opening is one of its biggest liabilities. However, something told me that I should not judge it so quickly. It took a while for a copy to appear in my bookstore, but when I saw it, I grabbed a copy.

Holly Evans is an insufferable twit who somehow still manages to make you care about her. She is not at all pleased about being in heaven, so the inept-seeming heavenly officials send her back to straighten out her issues. They are 1) that everyone thinks she killed herself and 2) that she had just had a fight with her boyfriend. Some baggage over a past suicide attempt didn't help matters.

They send her into the body of Vince Murphy, one of the corporate geeks, who supposedly had died at her funeral. However, he wakes up a few hours later, resulting in delightful confusion. Vince takes the idea of someone inhabiting his body with surprising aplomb, and focuses his efforts on getting Holly's heavenly affairs straightened out, eventually showing Holly what it is like to be truly unselfish.

Of course, the two of them are meant to be together. Halfway through this book, even as I wrestled with its inherent goofiness, I thought, this book ought to be made into a movie. It would make a great chick flick. It turned out that the issues that Holly had to straighten out where not what she expected. I cheered when she used Vince's surprisingly buff body to clock someone who really needed punching and I turned into a blubbering idiot when she paid her estranged stepmother -- who had raised her -- one final visit.

Yup, a 41 year-old woman, weeping over a 22 year old fictional twit. We're talking actual tears here. Not a pretty sight. And the tears came again when she had her final heavenly debriefing. If this book has taught me anything, it is that I've become entirely too cynical.

Most quotable line: "Somehow she'd made the classic Lizzy Bennet mistake of getting her Darcys and her Wickhams muddled up." Aah yes. Of course Amanda Ashby is a Jane Austen fan.

YOU HAD ME AT HALO is a coming-of-age novel that will make you laugh out loud, roll your eyes in exasperation and daub away tears. The beginning might take a while to pull you in, but if you give it a chance you might just end up loving it. I did.

Amanda Ashby Website * Blog


Carole McDonnell said...

Oh gee! This book sounds so sweet. I have to force myself to watch sweet films or to read sweet books. But once I steel myself for sweetness and innocence I often find that I like them. I still have to not gag whenever I see a girl with a unicorn poster on her wall...but innocence will take me over one of these days. Sounds like a sweet book. -C

Tia Nevitt said...

I think having a daughter is bringing it all back for me.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to pick this up for a day when I want something totally different from what I've been reading. I enjoyed your posting, too.

Tia Nevitt said...

"Totally different" would be an apt way to describe it. Thank you and I hope you enjoy it!