What would you do if you decided to give up everything you know and love for the sake of your child? Thatís the question ZoŽ Goren is faced with at the beginning of Flirting in Cars by Alisa Kwitney. ZoŽ is a Manhattan-ite to the core - she loves her job, loves her apartment, loves being able to walk everywhere, and loves takeout. However, when her daughter, Maya, is diagnosed with dyslexia, ZoŽ decides to sacrifice her lifestyle in order to move to the country and send Maya to a specialized school (but only for one year). Upon moving to upstate New York, ZoŽ meets Mack, an Iraq war vet who tries to convince her to let him teach her to drive. As their relationship grows, they deal with their own personal issues that emerge, as well as a scandal that could harm the town. Flirting in Cars is a quick, funny read that will leave you feeling lighthearted.
Kwitneyís strong point is her ability to write humorous characters. The characters in Flirting in Cars are funny and witty and really keep the story going. Zoeís banter with Mack really is a pleasure to read, as is the way she deals with awkward situations, such as a ďNew ParentsĒ night. Wit isnít an easy thing to write, but Kwitney manages to do it with grace.
My main problem with Flirting in Cars is the fact that so much of the backstory is brushed over. For example, Kwitney describes ZoŽís estrangement from her parents a few times in the book, but without much detail. I almost felt as if I were reading a sequel to a book, that this conflict had been detailed previously in another book that I had missed. I also felt this way about Mackís time in Iraq and his issues stemming from those experiences, as well as Bronwynís marital problems. They just seem glossed over and muddled, lacking any kind of definition. If Kwitney had taken the time to delve further into these character driven issues, both ZoŽ and Mackís character development would have been much more interesting. Instead, they seem stuck halfway between being well-rounded characters and being flat. Itís almost as if Kwitney deliberately left these points convoluted in order to generate interest in a prequel/sequel.
I also was disappointed that Flirting in Cars suffers from a classic chick-lit problem: predictability. I knew the major plot points of the book and what their outcomes would be simply from reading the back of the book. It was even more of a disappointment because I thought Kwitney was going to break the mold. ZoŽ is not written as a typical chick-lit heroine. She is not afraid of exposing herself (both figuratively and literally Ė she framed a nude picture of herself pregnant with her daughter), yet she is deathly terrified of driving because of an accident in her childhood. She also seems somewhat naÔve. Most people would grasp that it isnít really possible to get around outside a major city without a car, yet ZoŽ is confident that it is possible. She also does not realize what her daughterís learning disability really means, and though she makes a major sacrifice to get Maya the help she needs, she doesnít really understand it. She thinks that there is some sort of quick fix - one year at a country school, and then poof! Things will magically be better again. This is part of the growth the character progresses through. After seeing personal issues such as these tackled, it was a disappointment to have a cookie-cutter ending.
While Flirting in Cars is enjoyable, it is very forgettable. There is nothing that makes it remarkable. It is a classic chick-lit tale. If you like chick-lit, you will probably enjoy this book very much, then you will move onto the next book on your list and probably never give it a second thought. It is still definitely worth reading.