Trade Paperback/397 pages
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". . .sub-plots with so many twists and turns that it rivals the Tour de France."
"Pedersen. . . uses humor and dialogue effectively to touch on serious political and social issues…"
"Heart''s Desire," by Laura Pedersen, features a cavalcade of characters and multiple sub-plots with so many twists and turns that it rivals the Tour de France. That''s no surprise since this is the second in what will be four sequels about Hallie Palmer, a wild kid who at the age of 12 rode her bike to the horse races to place her bet with Cappy, the "patron of underage" gambling. She''s now 18 and preoccupied with losing her virginity.
The plot revolves around Hallie''s return to the lavish Stockton estate after a year in college. Should she have her first sexual experience with: Ray, son of a crime family; Aggie, the bisexual poet and Cappy''s grandson; Brandt, the "geek"; or Craig, who is not interested in an "exclusive" relationship?
Meanwhile, her legal guardian, Bernard Stockton, has an ulterior motive for offering Hallie a job as a gardener. "Gil left me and I''m just a wreck," Bernard weeps, as he coerces Hallie into a plot to lure his longtime gay partner back. Hallie''s summer adventure also includes assorted gambling episodes, work to uncover a money scam and and helping to straighen out her rebellious sister, who is hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Toss in a bunch of zany characters such as Rocky, an alcoholic chimpanzee who''s in love with the family''s Great Dane. There''s Olivia, Bernard''s mother, who''s a fighter for causes and writer of pornography. Add Officer Rich and other assorted "good and bad" guys, and you have a dandy soap opera for young female adults who flip TV channels, cradle their I-Pods, and are casually familiar with no-obligation "sex buddies."
Pedersen, once a stand-up comedian and still an ordained interfaith minister, uses humor and dialogue effectively to touch on serious political and social issues like sexual relationships, affordable education, and gay adoption rights. But this is a "quick fix," entertaining book with a limited shelf life. I found it tiresome, with way too much going on and little to sit back and savor.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla