Yet another enjoyable novel by Claire Cook, Life's a Beach is a book that I thought was going to be chick lit but its actually a lot deeper than that. While the book is lighthearted and funny on the surface, it delves into the main character's fears of commitment to relationships, and looks into the choices she’s made over her lifetime, asking the question, "Why is this women living in an apartment situated on top of her parents' house?"
Ginger lives above her parents’ home with her beloved cat, "Boyfriend", and she's been told some bad news: her mother has decided it's time to move on (and in the process get rid of the daughter who can't stand on her own two feet). Her parents are selling the bungalow, and while Ginger's father knows he doesn't have a choice (although he's finding ways to stall the sale), Ginger is frantic. Where is she going to live? She doesn't have a job (she used to be in sales but it didn't fulfill her) and is now trying to start a jewelry business (going the artistic route) which isn't getting off the ground (she always has good ideas, but does not know how to execute them). She also has a boyfriend that she only sees when he feels like it. They will spend the night together after which he disappears for days on end. Noah is totally focused on his glass-blowing business, and while he behaves as if he can't live without Ginger, he doesn't seem to have a problem doing just that, as long as he comes around to see her occasionally. He doesn't seem to be commitment material.
Ginger's older sister Geri (eight years and three months older, to be exact) is about to turn 50 and starting to get on Ginger's nerves. Geri is afraid of aging and cannot stop talking about it. She also tells Ginger that Ginger needs to get a life, that living with their parents for two years is "not a little while." "Every four seconds a baby boomer turns
fifty" is Geri's mantra, while she continues to criticize Ginger's life choices. Geri's latest request is for Ginger to baby-sit Geri's son while he tries out as an extra in a movie that is filming locally (a horror film involving sharks). Ginger is to get paid while she hangs out with Riley, a young boy who seems rather astute for his age.
The bulk of the plot centers on the movie being filmed in town (called “Shark Sense”), due to a shark that has beached itself on the coast of Massachusetts. The entire town is trying out for bit parts. Riley does so well during his audition that he lands a part (the producer sees him as an emerging talent), and thus their adventures in the movie business begin.
Life's a Beach is funny, witty and, while lighthearted, does have a lot of depth. Ginger is a character readers will love. While it's taking her a long time to get things right, she seems to be on the right track. Her relationship with her boyfriend is evolving, and her parents are a riot. There's an entire subplot involving the possible sale of the house, a set of missing saint statues, and Ginger's father's obsessive-compulsive need to acquire other people's junk.
There's a happy ending, for those of you who require that in a book, and while this isn't going to win a Pulitzer, it's still a well-written story about a woman who is desperately trying to get her life on track, with the help of her wacky family and friends. The reader will finish the book with a smile on her face.