Dana Logan has spent the past twenty years being a mother to her daughter and son, Taylor and Troy. Dana’s husband, Carl, owns his own advertising business, and he has relied on Dana over the years to handle things on the homefront. Dana has enjoyed being a stay-at-home mother, and seeing her children grow up has been bittersweet.
When Troy goes off to college and Taylor announces that she is getting married, Dana’s life as she knows it begins to fall apart. She cannot believe how quickly her children grew up, or that they do not need her “mothering” anymore. Dana’s entire job for the past twenty years has ended. She wants to give more of herself to Taylor and Troy, but they do not need her hovering over them.
Dana goes through a spell of depression but snaps to attention when Troy calls home from college to announce that he is sick. Without consulting Troy, Dana packs a bag for herself and drives from their hometown of Amarillo, Texas, to Colorado in order to nurse Troy back to health. Never mind that Troy only has a cold – Dana sees this as a “mothering opportunity,” and she thinks that Troy will be delighted to see her. Dana is wrong. When she enters Troy’s dorm room, she discovers Troy having a beer-drinking party in his room. Troy is embarrassed that his mother is there and treats Dana harshly.
Dana slinks away, intending to drive back home to Texas that night. When she makes a roadside stop, her car is stolen and she has to hitchhike to the nearest town, called Hellen. It’s a small town, and Dana spends the night in a local jail cell – unlocked - because Hellen has no hotel. When the telephone lines go down and roads are closed due to snow, Dana has no choice but to stay in Hellen for a few days. She befriends the locals, who slowly but surely warm up to her.
Dana comes up with a wacky plan to revitalize Hellen. Hellen once had an annual festival called “The Day of the Dead,” and Dana wants to reintroduce the yearly tradition. Dana enlists the help of the townsfolk to clean up, decorate, and get the town ready for festival. Dana even goes so far as to issue press releases and to get her son-in-law’s band, “Code Freak,” to play at the festival. Meanwhile, Carl wants Dana at home; he has an important business dinner that he wants Dana to host - plus he thinks that she has gone off her rocker.
You can probably see where this storyline is going, and readers who like happy endings will not be disappointed. I have read three of Archer’s books – all in the NEXT line – and Off Her Rocker is my least favorite of the three. However, it is not a bad book. It is well-written and the characters are well developed. I found it to be a tad corny, but it helped me to remind myself that Dana had gone off her rocker – her plans for Hellen are supposed to be out of left field as she goes through an identity crisis and empty nest syndrome. Other readers may enjoy it more than I, and I continue to look forward to reading more by Archer in the future.